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Neurology. 2003 Sep 9;61(5):623-30.

Nonsystemic vasculitic neuropathy: insights from a clinical cohort.

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  • 1Neurosciences Department, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI 54449, USA.



Nonsystemic vasculitic neuropathy (NSVN) is an uncommon disorder. Few series with small numbers of patients have been reported. The prognosis and treatment of patients presenting with NSVN remain uninvestigated. The authors sought to address these issues by assembling a large retrospective cohort with extended follow-up.


All nerve biopsies performed over 20 years were reviewed; cases with definite, probable, or possible vasculitis were segregated for clinical correlation. Patients satisfying clinical criteria for NSVN at presentation were selected. Clinicopathologic, treatment, and outcome measures were analyzed in patients followed for > or = 6 months.


A total of 48 patients (30 women, 18 men) with a median of 63 months of follow-up were identified. Most patients (85%) had extensive, overlapping involvement of multiple nerves. Only one had a symmetric polyneuropathy. Most neuropathies (96%) were painful. In 96%, nerve damage was distally accentuated, but most had concurrent proximal weakness. Diagnostic sensitivity was 58% for superficial peroneal nerve/peroneus brevis muscle biopsy and 47% for sural nerve biopsy. Combination corticosteroid/cytotoxic therapy was more effective than corticosteroid monotherapy in inducing remission and improving disability, with trends toward reduced relapses and chronic pain. Treatment with cyclophosphamide for >6 months decreased the relapse rate, which was 46% for all patients. Disease/treatment-related mortality was 10%. Six percent developed cutaneous involvement. Although chronic pain persisted in 60% of survivors, 80% had good outcomes.


NSVN nearly always presents as an asymmetric, distally accentuated, painful, sensorimotor polyneuropathy. Risks for systemic spread and death are small, and, aside from pain, neurologic prognosis is unexpectedly good. Although this was not a randomized controlled trial, combination therapy produced the best outcome in this cohort.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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