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Complications of Sural Nerve Biopsy in Diabetic versus Non-Diabetic Patients

     James R. Perry and Vera Bril

Abstract:   We compare complications from 66 sural nerve biopsies in 41 patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy to 40 patients with neuropathy from other causes, using a retrospective telephone survey. Diabetic patients were followed for a mean of 6.8 years and non-diabetics for 5.6 years. Mild long-term pain was described by 18.9% of patients overall with no difference between groups. Mild persistent sensory symptoms, insufficient to interfere with daily activity or warrant medical therapy, were reported by 63.6% of diabetic and 27.5% of non-diabetic patients (p < 0.006). Wound infection and severe pain were uncommon in both groups and no different in diabetics. Significant complications of sural nerve biopsy occurred no more frequently in diabetic than in non-diabetic patients. While sural nerve biopsy plays no role in the routine evaluation of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, it may be performed without increased risk when indicated in these patients to exclude other causes of neuropathy and in the context of research trials.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1994; 21: 34-37


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