Hematological malignancies include several diseases that may affect the peripheral nervous system (PNS) through various mechanisms. A common and challenging situation is represented by the occurrence of an active peripheral neuropathy in a patient with a supposed inactive hematological disorder.
We report clinical, electrophysiological, biological, and pathological data of 8 patients with latent malignant hemopathies (most were considered in remission): B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 3 patients, B-cell lymphoma in 1 patient, low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1 patient, Waldenström's macroglobulinemia in 1 patient, smoldering multiple myeloma in 1 patient, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance in 1 patient.
In all these cases, the nerve biopsy (NB) helped to diagnose the hematological relapse or detect a pathological mechanism linked to the hematological disorder: epineurial lymphocytic infiltration in 5 patients (including one with antimyelin-associated glycoprotein antibodies), cryoglobulin deposits in 1 patient, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy in 1 patient, and necrotizing vasculitis in 1 patient. In each case, pathological findings were crucial to select the adequate treatment, leading to an improvement in the neurological and biological manifestations.
These observations illustrate the value of NB and the need for active collaboration between neurologists and hematologists in such cases.