An outbreak of n-hexane polyneuropathy as a result of industrial exposure occurred in printing factories in Taipei area from December 1983 to February 1985. Multimodality evoked potentials study was performed on 22 of the polyneuropathy cases, five of the subclinical cases, and seven of the unaffected workers. The absolute and interpeak latencies of patterned visual evoked potential (pVEP) in both the polyneuropathy and subclinical groups were longer than in the normal controls. The pVEP interpeak amplitude was also decreased in the polyneuropathy cases. Brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP), showed no difference of wave I latency between factory workers and normal controls, but prolongation of the wave I-V interpeak latencies was noted, corresponding with the severity of the polyneuropathy. In somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs), both the absolute latencies and central conduction time (CCT) were longer in subclinical and polyneuropathy cases than in the unaffected workers and normal controls. From this evoked potentials study, chronic toxic effects of n-hexane on the central nervous system were shown.
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