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Peripheral Neuropathy Associated With Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome:  Prevalence and Clinical Features From a Population-Based Survey

Yuen T. So, MD, PhD; David M. Holtzman, MD; Donald I. Abrams, MD; Richard K. Olney, MD
Arch Neurol. 1988;45(9):945-948. doi:10.1001/archneur.1988.00520330023005.
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• We prospectively studied 40 hospitalized patients who had well-established diagnoses of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Patients with confounding risk factors for neuropathy were excluded; none of the study patients had known vitamin deficiency, alcoholism, or any metabolic, drug, or toxic factor. Clinical and electrophysiologic evidence of a distal symmetric polyneuropathy was found in 35% (13/37) of the patients. Symptoms and signs of neuropathy were usually mild, and painful dysesthesias were uncommon. Amplitude reduction of sural nerve action potentials distinguished all patients with from those without clinical neuropathy. Results of other electrophysiologic studies of sural, peroneal, and median nerves were typically normal. These results provide evidence of distal axonal degeneration. Neuropathy occurred only in patients with systemic illness longer than five months' duration. When compared with patients without neuropathy, these patients had more severe weight loss and a higher incidence of clinical dementia. Follow-up evaluation showed no evidence of clinical progression over a six-month period. The pathogenesis of this common distal axonal polyneuropathy is unknown and warrants further investigation.

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