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Auton Neurosci. 2013 Oct;177(2):286-90. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2013.06.006. Epub 2013 Jul 11.

Laser Doppler imaging in the detection of peripheral neuropathy.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Small fiber neuropathy is common in a number of systemic diseases and is often challenging to diagnose. Laser Doppler imaging (LDI) is a test of small fiber neurovascular function that can quantify the integrity of the vasomotor C-fiber mediated axon-reflex, but no standardized method of analysis exists. We developed a novel LDI analysis technique and tested it in a human model of small fiber neuropathy. Eighteen healthy subjects (age 24 ± 3 years) underwent LDI testing to assess the axon-mediated flare area in response to 10% acetylcholine iontophoresis. LDI measurements were taken before and longitudinally after a 48-hour application of 0.1% capsaicin (to cause a transient small fiber neuropathy) on the skin of the thigh; placebo cream was placed on the contralateral thigh as a control. We compared our new LDI image analysis technique to two previously published methods. The new LDI analysis technique was the only method to show a consistent difference in axon-reflex area between capsaicin treated and placebo treated skin on all testing days (p<0.05) with maximum attenuation of the flare area immediately post-application (438 ± 298 mm(2) vs. 824 ± 375 mm(2), p<0.05). In conclusion, this study demonstrates that our novel flare area method for LDI analysis can detect neurovascular dysfunction in a model of small fiber neuropathy, is an improvement over existing methods, and may supplement clinical assessment of small fiber neuropathy.

© 2013.


Capsaicin; Iontophoresis; LDI; Laser Doppler imaging; Small fiber neuropathy; Vasomotor axon-reflex

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