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J Neurol. 2013 Apr;260(4):1061-70. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6760-7. Epub 2012 Dec 2.

Peripheral neuropathy as initial manifestation of primary systemic vasculitides.

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Department of Neurology, Klinikum der Stadt Ludwigshafen, Bremserstra├če 79, 67063 Ludwigshafen, Germany.


Peripheral neuropathies are well-known complications of primary systemic vasculitides. In rare cases, peripheral neuropathies are among the first symptoms of these diseases. In this prospective study, 89 consecutive adult patients with newly diagnosed primary systemic vasculitis were screened, of whom 22 patients (25 %, 12 men, ten women, mean age, 59 years, range, 26-82 years) suffered from peripheral neuropathy due to systemic vasculitis at initial presentation. Peripheral neuropathy was most frequent in newly diagnosed patients with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss syndrome, 12 out of 20 patients, 60 %) and polyarteritis nodosa (three out of six patients, 50 %), and less common in patients with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (six out of 47 patients, 13 %) and microscopic polyangiitis (one out of 16 patients, 6 %). Multiplex mononeuropathy was more frequent (n = 13, 59 %) than symmetric polyneuropathy (n = 9, 41 %). The nerves commonly affected were the peroneal nerve, followed by the sural, posterior tibial, and median nerves. Treatment options were chosen according to current guidelines of the national neurological and rheumatologic societies, with initial corticosteroid monotherapy for patients with a mild disease form and a combination of corticosteroids and intravenously pulsed cyclophosphamide for patients with a more extended organ involvement. During follow-up (mean, 34 months, range, 12-112 months), new neurological complications were rare (9 %): One patient suffered from a cerebral infarct while another patient sustained epileptic seizures. Two patients (9 %) died from sepsis (after 60 months) or severe gastrointestinal bleeding (after 13 months). The degree of neurological disability measured by the functional disability score (described by Prineas) improved in 20 of 22 patients after 12 months of therapy.

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