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Non-length-dependent small fibre neuropathy. Confocal microscopy study of the corneal innervation
  1. F Gemignani1,
  2. G Ferrari2,
  3. F Vitetta1,
  4. M Giovanelli1,
  5. C Macaluso3,
  6. A Marbini1
  1. 1Department of Neurosciences, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
  2. 2G.B. Bietti Eye Foundation, IRCCS, Rome, Italy
  3. 3Institute of Ophthalmology, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Franco Gemignani, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, via Gramsci 14, I-43100 Parma, Italy; franco.gemignani{at}


Background It has been recently observed that small fibre neuropathy (SFN) may present as distal symmetrical polyneuropathy and with atypical non-length-dependent pattern.

Objective To describe a small series of patients with non-length-dependent SFN, investigating corneal innervation with corneal confocal microscopy (CCM).

Methods Evaluation of the corneal nerve fibre density using CCM in six women with non-length-dependent SFN. The patients were characterised by sensory disturbance involving proximal regions of the limbs, face and trunks, and the diagnosis was confirmed by the findings of decreased intraepidermal nerve fibre density on skin biopsy.

Results Six women, aged 35–64, had non-length-dependent SFN, related to Crohn disease, impaired glucose tolerance and Sjögren's syndrome, or idiopathic (three cases). In all patients, CCM demonstrated decreased corneal nerve fibre density (12.5–23.4/mm2; normal, >30.6/mm2).

Conclusion Non-length-dependent SFN may represent an intriguing diagnostic problem because of its puzzling presentation and the need for special investigations for its confirmation. In this perspective, CCM may provide a useful, non-invasive tool to complement the diagnostic workup.

  • Small fibre neuropathy
  • ganglionopathy
  • corneal confocal microscopy
  • neuropathic pain
  • non-length-dependent neuropathy
  • neuropathy
  • pain

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the review board of the Department of Neurosciences, University of Parma, Italy.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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