Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy in diabetics: motor conductions are important in the differential diagnosis with diabetic polyneuropathy

Clin Neurophysiol. 1999 Apr;110(4):705-11. doi: 10.1016/s1388-2457(98)00028-5.


Objective: It is important to recognize CIDP occurring in diabetics because, unlike diabetic polyneuropathy, it is treatable. The aim of this study was to find out whether there are clues which help to differentiate CIDP in diabetics from diabetic polyneuropathy.

Methods: We compared the electrophysiological and pathological findings of 7 diabetics, who developed a predominantly motor polyneuropathy with the features of CIDP, with a group of diabetics referred for symptomatic polyneuropathy.

Results: Of the 7 diabetics we believe developed CIDP, 6 met at least 3 and one patient two of the 4 electrophysiological criteria of demyelination. Of the 100 patients referred for diabetic polyneuropathy, only 4 fulfilled two criteria and none 3. Nerve biopsy findings were not helpful in differential diagnosis, as segmental demyelination and remyelination, onion bulbs and inflammatory infiltrates, which are the histologic features of CIDP, were also present in diabetic polyneuropathy.

Conclusions: CIDP can be diagnosed in a diabetic patient when motor symptoms are predominant, are more severe than expected in diabetic polyneuropathy and 3 of the 4 electrophysiological criteria for demyelination are fulfilled. When only two criteria are met, we believe that a trial with one of the established treatments for CIDP may be helpful in confirming the diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Demyelinating Diseases / complications
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Sural Nerve / pathology