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May 1993

Accelerated Neuropathy of Renal Failure

Author Affiliations

From the Neurology Service, St Elizabeth's Hospital, Boston, Mass.

Arch Neurol. 1993;50(5):536-539. doi:10.1001/archneur.1993.00540050078020

• Objective.  —To describe a syndrome of rapidly evolving polyneuropathy in patients with severe renal failure.

Design.  —Retrospective case series of four patients.

Setting.  —In-hospital evaluations and personal examinations of patients.

Patients.  —Four patients with severe or end-stage renal failure who were receiving peritoneal dialysis.

Results.  —These patients had an acute or subacute syndrome characterized by generalized limb weakness over days or weeks, severe imbalance, diminished reflexes, and numbness. Spinal fluid protein levels were elevated and some demyelinating features were noted on electrophysiological testing. Improvement occurred with more frequent peritoneal dialysis in one patient and transplantation in another, but the neuropathy progressed in the other two in whom diabetes may have played a role.

Conclusion.  —This partly reversible acute uremic neuropathy, which is probably caused by the metabolic disturbances of end-stage renal failure, simulates Guillain-Barré syndrome or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and may be complicated by diabetic neuropathy.