Current perception threshold: an adjunctive test for detection of acquired demyelinating polyneuropathies

D L Menkes, M R Swenson, H W Sander
Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology 2000, 40 (4): 205-10
Current Perception Threshold (CPT) evaluation quantifies the sensory threshold to transcutaneous electrical stimulation of three sensory fiber subtypes: A-beta (2,000 Hz), A-delta (250 Hz) and C fibers (5 Hz). Demyelinating polyneuropathies tend to affect larger myelinated fibers before smaller unmyelinated fibers, and they usually begin at the proximal nerve roots or terminal axons, due to relative weakness of the blood-nerve barrier in these locations. Axonal polyneuropathies tend to affect smaller fibers before larger fibers, in a distal to proximal gradient. Ten patients with demyelinating polyneuropathy and ten patients with axonal polyneuropathy underwent CPT testing. CPT comparisons were made with regard to side-to-side asymmetries, fiber type involvement, and the ratio of fiber types involved. The C2, lateral antebrachial cutaneous, and sural distributions were examined bilaterally. Demyelinating polyneuropathies were detected with 50% sensitivity and 100% specificity. This diagnostic sensitivity is similar to that of published criteria based upon motor nerve conduction. CPT testing can distinguish demyelinating from axonal polyneuropathies. It may be particularly helpful in patients with predominantly sensory symptoms in whom EMG/NCS data may be equivocal, or in patients who decline EMG/NCS studies.

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