Central vs peripheral nerve conduction. Before and after treatment of subacute combined degeneration

Arch Neurol. 1988 May;45(5):526-9. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1988.00520290058014.


Central and peripheral nerve conduction was studied in two patients with subacute combined degeneration by using the short-latency somatosensory evoked potentials and the peripheral nerve conduction study during treatment with cyanocobalamin. Before the treatment, somatosensory evoked potentials with median nerve stimulation were normal, but those with peroneal nerve stimulation revealed prolonged central conduction indicating dysfunction within the posterior column. Peripheral sensory and motor nerve action potentials were reduced with normal or slightly reduced conduction velocity. After treatment, marked shortening of the central conduction time (by 24% and 31%, respectively) was observed with mild or no recovery of peripheral nerve action potentials. These physiologic findings suggest that the main pathologic changes in the central nervous system may be demyelination in the posterior column in addition to axonal degeneration in the peripheral nerve. The former was responsive to treatment but the latter was poorly responsive to treatment. Sensory symptom in subacute combined degeneration appears to be, at least partially, attributed to the spinal cord lesion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Median Nerve / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology*
  • Peroneal Nerve / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / drug therapy
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Vitamin B 12 / therapeutic use


  • Vitamin B 12