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Sensory nerve conduction in the upper limbs at various stages of diabetic neuropathy
  1. P. Noël
  1. Brain Research Unit, University of Brussels, Belgium


    In 59 diabetic patients, sensory nerve potentials were recorded at various sites along the course of the median nerve. Pathological responses were characterized by reduced amplitude, desynchronization and decreased conduction velocity (CV). Four groups of patients with increasingly severe nerve dysfunction were distinguished. The presence and severity of clinical neuropathy in the upper limbs could be related to decreased maximal sensory nerve CV in the proximal segment of the limbs. When maximal sensory nerve CV was normal above the wrist, neuropathy usually remained latent. In severe cases where no sensory nerve potentials could be recorded, the cerebral evoked potentials nonetheless permitted a precise evaluation of the somatosensory conduction. In these cases, maximal sensory nerve CV was very low. In five patients with a so-called diabetic mononeuropathy, abnormal nerve potentials were recorded in the median nerve, although no clinical signs could be seen in the corresponding territory. It is proposed that the diabetic nature of a mononeuropathy can be assessed by the finding of latent abnormalities in seemingly normal nerve.

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    • 1 This work was supported by a grant from the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique Médicale to the Brain Research Unit.