Multifocal acquired demyelinating neuropathy masquerading as motor neuron disease

Muscle Nerve. 1988 Feb;11(2):103-7. doi: 10.1002/mus.880110203.


We report five patients with pure motor neuropathy characterized by multifocal weakness, muscle atrophy that was sometimes profound, cramps, and fasciculations with relatively preserved reflexes. The clinical picture led to an initial diagnosis of motor neuron disease in all cases, but nerve conduction studies revealed multifocal conduction block confined to motor axons and predominantly involving proximal nerve segments. Routine sensory nerve conduction studies, ascending compound nerve action potentials, and somatosensory evoked potentials were all normal even through nerve segments in which motor conduction was severely blocked. Onset of symptoms was insidious, and progression was indolent. In two cases, after many years of neuropathy, sensory abnormalities developed but remained clinically trivial. These unusual cases probably have the same pathogenesis as previously described patients with persistent multifocal conduction block. Distinction from motor neuron disease is critical, since chronic demyelinating neuropathy may respond to treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adult
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons*
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / diagnosis*