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Differences in clinical features between small fiber and sensitive large fiber neuropathies in Sjögren's syndrome

      Abstract

      Background

      To distinguish large (LFN) and small fiber neuropathies (SFN) in Sjögren's syndrome (SS) requires electroneuromyography (EMG) first, but this is time-consuming and has sometimes a limited accessibility, which can lead to a diagnostic delay. We aimed to identify clinical features that could distinguish SFN from sensitive LFN in SS.

      Methods

      The study included patients with SS who were monitored in the internal medicine and neurology departments at Angers University Hospital between 2010 and 2016, and who were tested for suspected peripheral neuropathy. Patients with clinical motor involvement were excluded. LFN diagnosis was based on EMG. SFN diagnosis was based on intraepidermal nerve fiber density on skin biopsies in patients with no abnormality on EMG.

      Results

      LFN and SFN were diagnosed respectively in 22 (6.9%) and 17 (5.4%) patients among 317 patients with SS. Prevalence of anti-SSA antibodies was lower in the SFN group compared to the LFN group (p=0.002). The types of paresthesia did not differ between the 2 groups. After adjustment for age and sex, SFN was associated with dysautonomia (p=0.01, OR 8.4 [CI 95%: 1.7-42.4]) and without length-dependent topography (p=0.03, OR 0.2 [0.04-0.8] in comparison with the LFN group.

      Conclusions

      An association of non-length-dependent pattern and dysautonomia seems to predict the absence of LFN in SS and encourages the search for SFN. In contrary, patients with length-dependent involvement and without dysautonomia should be prioritized for EMG.

      Keywords

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