Errors in diagnosis of polyneuropathy: Three cases of chronic lumbosacral root impairment

Luca Padua, Roberto Padua, Marisa Nazzaro, Pietro Tonali

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In the last years very precise diagnostic investigations have been introduced to allow accurate diagnostic of pathologies affecting the major part of peripheral nerves; nevertheless, some avoidable misdiagnosis still occurs. For instance, the neurophysiological pattern observed in chronic compression of nerve roots may mimic an axonal polyneuropathy, especially when compression occurs in post-ganglionic tract of dorsal root (in this case sensory nerve conduction studies show decreased or absent response). A clinical-neurophysiological dissociation may be noted in cases with pre- ganglionic impairment of dorsal root (clinical sensory deficit in presence of normal amplitude of sensory response). During the past two years we observed 3 cases with diagnosis of polyneuropathy that, after further studies, appeared affected by severe chronic compression of lumbo-sacral nerve roots. Our data suggest that in those cases with suspected polyneuropathy, in which the neurophysiological picture is characterized by the exclusive axonal (and myelinic) involvement of motor and/or sensory peripheral nerve of lower limbs, neuroimaging of radicular structures, must be performed. These further investigations may avoid severe and irreversible damage to neural tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-226
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the Peripheral Nervous System
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Diagnosis
  • Disc disease
  • Lumboscacral roots
  • Polyneuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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