Acute small fibre sensory neuropathy: another variant of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2002 Apr;72(4):540-2. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.72.4.540.


Six patients who presented with acute sensory neuropathy were studied. All patients underwent detailed clinical assessment along with electrophysiological tests and relevant laboratory investigations. All patients had acute onset numbness, reaching the peak deficit within 4 weeks. Four of them had associated burning dysaesthesia. An antecedent illness was reported in four; diarrhoea in three, and urinary tract infection in one. The neurological examination disclosed normal muscle strength, symmetric glove and stocking type sensory loss for pain and temperature, normal proprioception, and vibration senses with normal or brisk tendon reflexes. Analysis of CSF demonstrated albuminocytological dissociation in all. Routine motor and sensory nerve conduction studies were normal. Sympathetic skin responses were also normal except for the lower limbs in one patient. Stool cultures for Campylobacter jejuni were negative. The outcome was favourable. Burning dysaesthesia disappeared within 4 months. Numbness and objective sensory loss tended to persist longer. The clinical features and normal routine nerve conduction studies, which assess large diameter nerve fibre function, indicate small sensory fibre dysfunction in the group. Their presentation and CSF findings would fit into the diagnosis of sensory Guillain-Barré syndrome. The current study suggests that acute small fibre sensory neuropathy (ASFSN) is another clinical entity which could perhaps be included in the heterogeneous range of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neurons, Afferent / pathology*
  • Pain Threshold
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology*