Sympathetic skin response in diabetic neuropathy

NAZLIEL B., Yetkin I., Irkeç C., Koçer B.

Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology, vol.42, no.3, pp.181-185, 2002 (Scopus) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 42 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Journal Name: Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.181-185
  • Keywords: Autonomic nervous system, Diabetes mellitus, Polyneuropathy, Sympathetic skin response (SSR)
  • Lokman Hekim University Affiliated: No


Autonomic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes mellitus (DM) in substantial proportion of cases and may cause definite autonomic symptoms. Because conventional electrophysiological methods do not assess the autonomic nervous system, simple reproducible tests were developed. One of them is sympathetic skin response (SSR) which provides useful information about the status of sympathetic postganglionic function. The aim of this study is to perform SSR in diabetic patients to see whether this test can be used as an electrophysiological method for the diagnosis and confirmation of diabetic autonomic neuropathy. 20 diabetic patients who had electrophysiologically confirmed polyneuropathy but showed no symptoms or signs referable to autonomic system dysfunction were included. 14 (70%) patients demonstrated abnormal SSR. 2 abnormal patterns were observed. An absent response in at least one tested lower extremity (50%) and prolonged foot with normal hand latency (20%). 6 patients (30%) demonstrated no abnormalities. Foot and hand latencies in diabetics did not differ significantly from those of normal controls (p: 0.4, p: 0.1) and no correlation could be found with latencies and duration of sickness, patient's age and HbA1c values. We believe latency measurement is an objective measure of conduction in multineural pathways and can detect subclinical involvement of sympathetic nervous system in diabetics who do not manifest symptoms or signs referable to autonomic system dysfunction.