Epineurial microvasculitis in proximal diabetic neuropathy

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Abstract

Amongst the focal and multifocal neuropathies that are associated with diabetes mellitus one of the most common is a proximal predominantly motor lower limb neuropathy. Recent evidence has indicated that, at least in a proportion of cases, this may have an inflammatory basis. We have examined a consecutive series of 15 cases of proximal diabetic neuropathy (diabetic amyotrophy). These were characterized by proximal pain and asymmetric proximal or generalized lower limb muscle weakness, associated in some cases with radicular sensory involvement. Two-thirds of the patients had an accompanying distal symmetric sensory polyneuropathy. Biopsy of the intermediate cutaneous nerve of the thigh, a sensory branch of the femoral nerve, showed epineurial microvasculitis in 3 patients and nonvasculitic epineurial inflammatory infiltrates in another case. In a further case, microvasculitis was found in both in the sural nerve and a quadriceps muscle biopsy specimen. The detection of inflammatory changes appeared to be correlated with the occurrence of sensory radicular involvement. Whether similar changes are present in muscle nerves in this predominantly motor syndrome requires further study. Nevertheless, the present observations confirm the view that secondary vasculitic or other inflammatory reactions may contribute to some forms of diabetic neuropathy.

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