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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2012 Nov;71(11):1000-8. doi: 10.1097/NEN.0b013e3182729fdc.

Peripheral autonomic neuropathy: diagnostic contribution of skin biopsy.

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  • 1IRCCS (Istituto Di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico) Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna e Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche, Universit√† di Bologna, Bologna, Italy. vincenzo.donadio@unibo.it

Abstract

Skin biopsy has gained widespread use for the diagnosis of somatic small-fiber neuropathy, but it also provides information on sympathetic fiber morphology. We aimed to ascertain the diagnostic accuracy of skin biopsy in disclosing sympathetic nerve abnormalities in patients with autonomic neuropathy. Peripheral nerve fiber autonomic involvement was confirmed by routine autonomic laboratory test abnormalities. Punch skin biopsies were taken from the thigh and lower leg of 28 patients with various types of autonomic neuropathy for quantitative evaluation of skin autonomic innervation. Results were compared with scores obtained from 32 age-matched healthy controls and 25 patients with somatic neuropathy. The autonomic cutoff score was calculated using the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Skin biopsy disclosed a significant autonomic innervation decrease in autonomic neuropathy patients versus controls and somatic neuropathy patients. Autonomic innervation density was abnormal in 96% of patients in the lower leg and in 79% of patients in the thigh. The abnormal findings disclosed by routine autonomic tests ranged from 48% to 82%. These data indicate the high sensitivity and specificity of skin biopsy in detecting sympathetic abnormalities; this method should be useful for the diagnosis of autonomic neuropathy, together with currently available routine autonomic testing.

PMID:
23037327
DOI:
10.1097/NEN.0b013e3182729fdc
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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