Background and purpose: We aimed to test the clinical utility of the leg:thigh intraepidermal nerve-fiber (IENF) density ratio as a parameter to discriminate between length-dependent small-fiber neuropathy (SFN) and small-fiber sensory ganglionopathy (SFSG) in subjects with signs and symptoms of small-fiber pathology. Methods: We retrospectively evaluated thigh and leg IENF density in 314 subjects with small-fiber pathology (173 with distal symmetrical length-dependent SFN and 141 with non-length-dependent SFSG). A group of 288 healthy subjects was included as a control group. The leg:thigh IENF density ratio was calculated for all subjects. We used receiver operating characteristic curve analyses to assess the ability of this parameter to discriminate between length-dependent SFN and SFSG, and the decision curve analysis to estimate its net clinical benefit. Results: In patients with neuropathy, the mean IENF density was 14.8 ± 6.8/mm at the thigh (14.0 ± 6.9/mm in length-dependent SFN and 15.9 ± 6.7/mm in patients with SFSG) and 7.5 ± 4.5/mm at the distal leg (5.4 ± 3.2/mm in patients with length-dependent SFN and 10.1 ± 4.6/mm in patients with SFSG). The leg:thigh IENF density ratio was significantly (P < 0.01) lower in patients with length-dependent SFN (0.44 ± 0.23) compared with patients with SFSG (0.68 ± 0.28). The area under the curve of the receiver operating characteristic analysis to discriminate between patients with length-dependent SFN and SFSG was 0.79. The decision curve analysis demonstrated the clinical utility of this parameter. Conclusions: The leg:thigh IENF ratio represents a valuable tool in the differential diagnosis between SFSG and length-dependent SFN.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was partly financed by institutional funding (Italian Ministry of Health 5/1000-2014).
© 2018 EAN
- intraepidermal nerve fibers
- neuropathic pain
- sensory ganglionopathy
- skin biopsy
- small-fiber neuropathy