Conduction block in diabetic neuropathy

Muscle Nerve. 1991 Sep;14(9):858-62. doi: 10.1002/mus.880140910.


Symmetric sensorimotor polyneuropathy is a common complication of diabetes. Sensory and motor evoked amplitudes and conduction velocities are reduced. Both demyelination and axon loss have been reported in pathologic studies. Conduction block (CB), a manifestation of segmental demyelination, has not been previously studied in diabetic neuropathy. We determined the prevalence of conduction block in patients with diabetes by analyzing electrodiagnostic data from 24 diabetics. Conduction block was defined as a greater than 20% drop in peak-to-peak amplitude, and a less than 15% change in negative-peak duration between proximal and distal stimulation sites. A total of 76 nerve segments were studied. The criteria for conduction block were met in only 6 segments in 6 patients. The mean decrease in peak-to-peak amplitude between stimulation sites was 28% (range 21% to 40%). We conclude that conduction block over long nerve segments is uncommon in diabetic neuropathy, and, if present, suggests that other causes for neuropathy in diabetic patients should be sought.

MeSH terms

  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis
  • Demyelinating Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Electrodiagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology*