The clinical features of idiopathic polyneuritis in 22 patients admitted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center between July 1965 and June 1970 are described. Serial studies of peripheral nerve function in 12 patients followed to clinical recovery showed changes in nerve conduction velocity, distal motor latency, and/or muscle action potential amplitude. Six children and one adult, showing a change in all three parameters, exhibited a strong correlation between the degree of slowing and the shortness of their illness. Assessment of immune status, by quantitative measurement of cerebrospinal fluid immunoglobulin G(11 patients) and by the degree of lymphocyte transformation on exposure to specific brain protein and/or a homogenate of sciatic nerve (10 patients), bore no consistent relation to the severity or course of the illness. A double-blind trial of short-term, high dose adrenocorticotrophic hormone has yielded no valid evidence to date for or against the effectiveness of such therapy in this illness.
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