Axon reflex flare and quantitative sudomotor axon reflex contribute in the diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy

Authors


Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, University of Erlangen, Universitätsstr. 17, 91054 Erlangen, Germany. E-mail: namer@physiologie1.uni-erlangen.de

Abstract

Introduction

Objective diagnosis of small fiber impairment is difficult.

Methods

We used the quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test (QSART) and axon-reflex-flare-test in the foot and thigh of 46 patients with peripheral neuropathy to assess C-fiber function in addition to conventional neurography and thermal threshold testing.

Results

In all patients, small fiber impairment was suspected because of abnormal warmth detection thresholds (76% of all tested) and/or pain in the feet. A total of 83% had reduced axon-reflex flare areas and 17% lower QSART scores. Patients with pure small fiber neuropathy had higher rates of reduced flare areas (87.5%) and sweating rates (25.5%). There was no difference between patients with and without pain regarding thermotesting and axon-reflex testing.

Conclusions

Both axon-reflex tests are helpful to identify objectively patients with small fiber impairment. Afferent and efferent C-fiber classes can be impaired differently. These tests detect small fiber impairment, but they cannot differentiate between painful and nonpainful neuropathy. Muscle Nerve 47: 357–363, 2013

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