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Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1996 Sep;36(6):369-75.

Segmental zoster paresis of limbs.

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Department of Neurology, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL 60153 USA.


Segmental zoster paresis (SZP) is the focal, asymmetrical neurogenic weakness which may occur in a limb affected by cutaneous zoster. We have summarized the features of this syndrome, based on a retrospective review of 8 personal and 96 published cases. Limb SZP becomes apparent in at least 3-5% of patients with cutaneous zoster, who are usually over the age of sixty and weak proximally (C5,6,7 or L2,3,4 innervated muscles). Functional motor recovery occurs in about 75% of cases, generally by 1-2 years. Limb weakness is probably due to a lesion of the ventral nerve root, in close proximity to the initiating dorsal ganglionitis. The electrodiagnostic findings, scarce in the literature, typically consist of absent compound sensory nerve action potentials in the involved limb, with less frequent reduction or loss of compound muscle action potentials. Fibrillations and positive sharp waves become detectable within 1-4 months in limb and related paraspinal muscles, decreasing or disappearing later. In addition to this radiculopathy, peripheral nerves may also occasionally become involved, manifest as mononeuropathies of the median, ulnar, long thoracic, recurrent laryngeal, and phrenic nerves. The zoster infection or consequent inflammatory response appears able to affect motor axons distally as well as proximally.

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