-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Nerve inflammation may be
the cause of pain, numbness and weakness that some patients
experience after surgery, according to a new study.
These problems, called postsurgical neuropathies, are typically
believed to be the result of compression or stretching of nerves
during surgery. But this new study suggests that, in some patients,
neuropathy is the result of the immune system attacking the nerves,
leading to inflammation. Immune-suppressing drugs may prove
effective in such cases, said the Mayo Clinic researchers.
"It is important that a person with postsurgical inflammatory neuropathy receive a diagnosis and treatment quickly. Understanding the role of inflammation in these patients' neuropathy can lead to appropriate immunotherapy and improvement of neurological symptoms and impairments," study senior author and neurologist Dr. P. James Dyck said in a Mayo news release.
He and his colleagues studied 23 patients who developed
neuropathy within 30 days of undergoing orthopedic, abdominal,
chest or dental surgery. These patients were selected because their
neuropathy didn't appear to be caused by compression or stretching
of the nerves.
Nerve biopsies revealed increased inflammation in 21 of the
patients. Seventeen of them received three months of immunotherapy,
after which all showed improvements in their neuropathy
The study was published online Sept. 20 in the journal
"It is logical for patients to believe that it was the surgeon's fault that they developed a neuropathy because it occurred after the surgery. However, in these cases, we have strong evidence that the neuropathies were not the surgeon's fault but were caused by the immune system attacking the nerves," Dyck said.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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