Nerve conduction and biopsy correlation in over 100 consecutive patients with suspected polyneuropathy

Muscle Nerve. 1994 Sep;17(9):1010-20. doi: 10.1002/mus.880170908.


Neuropathy was classified physiologically and histologically as normal, axonal, demyelinative, or indeterminate using specific motor nerve conduction (NC) and sural sensory nerve biopsy (NB) criteria. Physiological and histological diagnoses were concordant in 63%, and minimally discordant in 14% of patients. The most important discordant patients were 6 with demyelinative neuropathy, 4 by NC, of which 2 were pure motor syndromes, and 2 by NB, both predominantly sensory syndromes. In the 55 patients with predominant axonal degeneration on biopsy, the extent of NC slowing was determined. As compound motor and sensory nerve action potential (CMAP and SNAP) amplitude declined, distal motor latency increased, whereas motor and sensory conduction velocity (CV) did not. Minimum F response latency increased as motor CV decreased, more in lower than upper extremity nerves. We conclude that: (1) except for sensory neuropathy, routine motor NC studies generally suffice in identifying demyelinative neuropathy; (2) NC slowing in axonal neuropathy is usually slight but may result in significantly prolonged distal motor latencies when CMAP amplitude is very low, and prolonged F wave latency when motor CV is slightly low; and (3) The physiologic criteria employed in this study rarely misclassifies neuropathy as demyelinative in patients with predominant axon loss on biopsy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / pathology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sural Nerve / pathology
  • Sural Nerve / physiology
  • Sural Nerve / physiopathology*