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The clinical and neurophysiological study of leprosy.

Byline: Murat Cabalar Vildan Yayla Samiye Ulutas Songul Senadim and Ayla Culha Oktar

: ABSTRACTObjectives The aim of this study was to evaluate neurological and neurophysiological features of leprosy. Methods: Seventy seven hospitalized leprosy patients (52 male 25 female) were examined neurological and neurophysiologically between 2010 and 2012. Standard procedures were performed for evaluating sensory and motor conduction studies to all patients. Motor studies were carried out on median ulnar tibial and common peroneal nerves. Sensory studies were carried out on median ulnar and sural nerves. Sympathetic skin response (SSR) recordings on both hands and feet and the heart rate (R-R) interval variation (RRIV) recordings on precordial region were done in order to evaluate the autonomic dysfunction. Results: The mean age was 59.1114.95 years ranging between 17 and 80 years. The mean duration of disease was 35.5818.30 years. Clinically the patients had severe deformity and disability. In neurophysiological examinations sensory motor conduction studies of the lower extremities were found to be more severely affected than upper and sensory impairment predominated over motor. Abnormal SSRs were recorded in63 (81.8%) cases of leprosy. Abnormal RRIVs were recorded in 41 (53.2%) cases and abnormal RRIVs with hyperventilation were recorded in 55 (71.4%) cases of leprosy. Significant differences were found between SSR and sensory conduction parameters of median ulnar nerves as well as motor conduction parameters of median ulnar and peroneal nerves (p less than 0.05).Conclusion: Peripheral nervous system dysfunction is accompanied by autonomic nervous system dysfunction in leprosy patients. Sympathetic involvement may predominate over parasympathetic involvement.

KEY WORDS: Disability Leprosy Neuropathy Neurophysiology.

INTRODUCTION

Leprosy is a chronic granulomatous and infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae (ML) affecting the skin eye nasal mucosa testis kidney both somatic and autonomic nerves.Secondary complications of the neuropathy can result in deformity and disability. Leprosy affects people of all ages and both sexes. Dermato- neurological signs and symptoms are the primary manifestations ranging in spectrum between two forms as tuberculoid and lepromatous. The disease is thought to be of low infectivity. Transmission of the ML is through nasal secretions and skin contact and people at higher risk are those who live in the same house as the carrier of ML.1-3Clinical examination focal abnormalities skin lesions as dry hairless are common. Electrodiagnostic findings early in the disease reveal demyelinating features such as slowing of conduction velocity and prolongation of latencies but as the disease progresses secondary axonal damage commonly ensues.45 In this study after clinical examination motor and sensory nerve conduction studies sympathetic skin responses (SSR) and R-R interval variations (RRIV) were performed in chronic leprosy patients.

METHODSThis investigation was carried out between 2010 and 2012 on leprosy patients who hospitalized to the Leprosy Clinic of Turkan Saylan in Istanbul. We studied 77 leprosy patients (25 female 52 male) the mean age was 59.1114.95 years ranging between 17 and 80 years. The mean duration of disease was 35.5818.30 years. Routine neurological examinations and neurophysiological evaluation were performed on all patients.Neurophysiological tests were performed by Me- delec Synergy EMG apparatus. Sensory conduction studies of right or if not available left median ul- nar and sural nerves and motor conduction studies of median ulnar peroneal and tibial nerves were obtained by standard procedures. Motor distal la- tencies (ms) amplitudes of compound motor ac- tion potential (CMAP) (mV) and motor conduction velocities (m/s) were evaluated. Onset and peak latencies (ms): and amplitudes (V) of sensory nerve action potentials (SNAP) and sensory nerve conduction velocities (m/s) were studied. Cup elec- trodes were used to record SSRs: The active elec- trode was placed on the palmar surface of the hand while the reference electrode was placed on the dorsum of the hand and foot if available. The SSRs were recorded by wrist stimulation for the median nerve or malleolar stimulation for tibial nevre. The R-R interval variation and RRIV with hyperventila- tion studies (RRIV HV) were performed using two cup electrodes placed on the precordial region and results were evaluated according to the formula de- scribed by Shahani.6Data Analysis: NCSS (Number Cruncher Statistical System) 2007 Statistical Software (Utah USA) was used for statistical analyses. Defining statistical methods (mean value standard deviation and frequency of distribution) are used for evaluation of data. Chi-square test with Yates' correction and Fisher exact test were used to compare qualitative data. The results were considered statistically significant as pless than 0.05.Ethical Considerations: The research was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Bakirkoy Dr. Sadi Konuk Resarch and Education Hospital with protocol number: 2012.06.05 date: 09.04.2012. All subjects gave their written informed consent.

RESULTS

Most of the cases (n=48) originated from eastern part of Turkey. Mean hospitalisation time was32.617.9 (7-90) days. Leprosy case in family was reported by 39% (n=30) of individuals and most of these leprosy cases were first degree relatives (father mother and brother).Clinical examination; Leg foot or finger am- putees of lower extremites were observed in 40 patients but arm hand or finger amputees of up- per extremites in 18 patients (Fig. 1a and 1). There were lagophthalmos (n=23) ulnar nerve thickening (n=34) sensory loss in glove and stocking pattern in 36 patients drop hand (n=1) drop foot (n=1) but deep tendon reflexes were preserved in 40 pa- tients. Diabetes mellitus (n=5) visual loss [Cataract (n=28) traumatic (n=6)] hearing loss (n=8) tension headache (n=1) endocrinopathy (n=12) such as os- teoporosis vitamin b12 deficiency hypothyroid- ism and depression (n=3) were other symptoms.

Table-I: Median and unlar nerves sensory and motor conduction findings.

###Right###Left

###Sensory min-max meansd###Motor min-max meansd Sensory min-max meansd Motor min-max meansd

Median DL###n=20 1.9-5.2 3.210.85###n=34 3-11.4 5.061.60 n=5 2-4 2.560.82###n=7 2.7-8.8 4.692.09

Nerve SNAP CMAPn=20 4.1-22.1 9.685.13###n=34 0.2-10.3 5.312.78 n=5 2.9-20.5 9.347.30 n=7 0.5-10.4 5.813.38

###CV###n=20 23.1-59.5 42.5310.81 n=33 23-67 48.669.68 n=5 37-70 50.5013.50 n=7 43.7-73 50.6410.32

Ulnar###DL###n=12 1.7-4.8 2.941.04###n=28 2.5-10 4.161.56 n=4 1.6-3.55 2.400.84 n=4 2.1-4.56 3.011.07

Nerve SNAP CMAPn=12 4.2-12.9 6.912.68###n=27 0-12 5.432.98###n=4 9.9-15.4 11.782.57n=4 3.38-7.2 6.001.58

###CV###n=12 19.8-57.9 39.0113.02 n=24 35.7-78.4 55.1311.47 n=4 31-55 44.2010.37 n=3 45-55 51.375.51

Table-II: Tibial and common peroneal nerve motor conduction findings.

###RightLeft

###Common peroneal nerve###Tibial nevre###Common peroneal nerve###Tibial nerve

###min-max meansd###min-max meansd###min-max meansd###min-max meansd

DL###n=20 2.7-12.4 5.172.47###n=18 3.75-9.35 6.061.52###n=3 2.6-4.95 3.851.18###n=3 3.5-8.5 5.422.70

CMAP###n=20 0.3-4.9 1.611.27###n=18 0.3-7.3 3.072.10###n=3 0.4-5.4 2.542.57###n=3 0.1-5.3 2.012.88

CV###n=18 23-57.1 41.268.76###n=17 34.1-52.1 41.095.14###n=3 39.3-51.6 46.806.66###n=4 27.5-44.2 35.108.45

Neurophysiological examination; median ulnar tibial and peroneal nerve sensory and motor responses (distal latans SNAP-CMAP and conduction velocities) are shown in Table I and II. Sural nerve potentials were recorded only in four cases. The parameters were given as min-max and meanSD consequently: Right sural nerve (n=3) distal latans (ms) (1.9-4.3) (2.961.22) SNAP (V) (3.2-15.3) (7.306.93) conduction velocity (m/s) (32.6-73.7) (52.8320.56) and left sural nerve (n=1) distal latans=7 ms SNAP=7.8 V conduction velocity=20 ms were recorded. Abnormal SSR were recorded in 63 (81.8%) cases of leprosy. Abnormal RRIV were recorded in 41 (53.2%) cases and abnormal RRIV HV were recorded in55 cases (71.4%) cases of leprosy. In 23 (42.59%) cases who had amputation of foot fingers SSR were recorded abnormal (p=0.002). In 14 (35%) cases who had amputation of hand fingers SSR were recorded abnormal (p=0.144). Cases whom detected lagophtalmos (p=0.153 p=0.074 p=0.195 respectively) and sensory loss in glove and stocking pattern (p=0.160 p=0.499 p=0.922 respectively) did not show any statistical difference for SSR RRIV and RRIV HV.Moreover significant difference was not found between other clinical findings (hypertension diabetes mellitus hearing loss drop hand and drop foot) and neurophysiological findings (SSR RRIV and HV). Significant difference was found between ulnar nerve sensory conduction studies and RRIV (p=0.014). Furthermore significant differences were found between SSR and median ulnar sensory conduction studies (p=0.007 p=0.001 respectively) and also median ulnar peroneal motor conduction studies (pless than 0.005 pless than 0.05 pless than 0.05 respectively). But significant differences were not found between other sensory motor conduction studies and SSR RRIV RRIV HV findings. The distrubution of sensory and motor responses in patients with abnormal SSR RRIV and RRIV HV are shown on Table -III-IV.

Table-III: Distrubution of sensory and motor nerve impairment in patients with abnormal RRIV.

###Sensory###Motor

###RRIV normal RRIV abnormal Total###p###RRIV normal RRIV abnormal###Total###p

###Median nerve

###DL###14(35%)###7(43.8%) 21(37.5%)0.541###27(65.9%)###8(50%)###35(61.4%) 0.299

###SNAP/CMAP###14(35%)###7(43.8%) 21(37.5%)0.541###27(65.9%)###8(50%)###35(61.4%) 0.299

###CV###14(35%)###7(43.8%) 21(37.5%)0.541###27(65.9%)###8(50%)###35(61.4%) 0.299

###Ulnar nerve

###DL###6(15%)###7(46.7%) 13(23.6%)0.014###20(51.3%)###8(50%)###28(50.9%) 0.931

###SNAP/CMAP###6(15%)###7(46.7%) 13(23.6%)0.014###19(50%)###8(50%)###27(50%) 0.999

###CV###6(15%)###7(46.7%) 13(23.6%)0.014###17(47.2%)###8(50%)###25(48.1%) 0.853

###Tibial nerve

###DL###-###-###-###-###16(59.3%)###3(33.3%) 19(52.8%)0.117

###CMAP###-###-###-###-###16(59.3%)###3(33.3%) 19(52.8%)0.117

###CV###-###-###-###-###15(57.5%)###3(33.3%) 18(51.4%)0.208

###Peroneal nerve

###DL###-###-###-###-###15(55.6%)###4(44.4%) 19(52.8%)0.563

###CMAP###-###-###-###-###15(55.6%)###4(44.4%) 19(52.8%)0.563

###CV###-###-###-###-###13(52%)###4(44.4%)17(50%)0.697

###Sural nerve

###DL###2(6.9%)###2(20%) 4(10.3%)0.239 -###-###-###-

###SNAP###1(3.6%)###2(20%) 3(7.9%)0.098 -###-###-###-

###CV###1(3.6%)###2(20%) 3(7.9%)0.098 -###-###-###-

DISCUSSION(WHO) in 2000 1319849 leprosy cases were record- ed in the world.7 There were 181941 new cases diag- nosed and reported to WHO in 2012.8 The Ministry of Health of Turkey reported 2353 leprosy cases in2004 and prevalence rate was 3.21 per 100000.9 Leprosy causes skin lesions and neuropathy. Secondary complications of the neuropathy can result in deformity and disability. In addition to leprosy remains a stigmatizing disease. Therefore this perception of stigma in patients may cause them to isolate themselves from society. It may cause anxiety depression isolation problems in family relationships and friendships and reduce treatment adherence and recovery chances.1011 Lagophthalmos usually results in damageof the zygomatic and temporal branches of the facial nerve. It gives rise to exposure keratopathy. Reduced corneal and conjunctival sensation due to involvement of the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve predisposes to corneal ulceration.12 Kim JH et al. detected 9.7% facial nerve involment and lepromatous leprosy (LL) group displayed the significantly lowest prevalence of facial palsy (%6).13 In another study 192 leprosy cases were investigated and lagophthalmus detected in 23% cataract detected in 14%.14 In his study Awasthi endocrine dysfunctions such as hypogonadism sterility and osteoporosis in leprosy in their studies.16 We detected lagophthalmus in 29.9% cataracts in 36.4% hearing loss in 10.4% (n=8) of the cases. Nerve thickening on palpation in six sensory loss in stocking-glove pattern in one asymmetricalsensory loss in the feet in two and asymmetrical sensory loss in the hands and feet in 25 patients were observed in a study by Soysal A et al. They reported severe extremity amputations in their cases.17 Our results were similiar to this study. Since our cases were long term patients with severe disabilities we did not consider taking a separate control group. Saraya MA et al. reported that leprosy infection may play a role in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus and revealed that diabetes mellitus is more frequently seen in lesprosy cases comparing to the control group.18 Diabetes mellitus can cause either peripheral or autonomic neuropathy. In our study we detected only 6.5% (n=5) of the cases had diabetes mellitus. Thus we thought that the neuropathy is the result of leprosy. Neuropathy is one of the most frequent compli- cations in leprosy patients manifesting as sensory motor or autonomic deficit. Sensory loss is the ear- liest and most frequently affected modality but predominantly motor loss can also occur. Leprosy Table-IV: Distrubution of sensory and motor nerve impairment in patients with abnormal RRIV HV.

Table-IV: Distrubution of sensory and motor nerve impairment in patients with abnormal RRIV HV.

###Sensory###Motor

###RRIV HV RRIV HV Total p###RRIV HV###RRIV HV###Total###p

###normal abnormal###normal###abnormal

###Median nerve

###DL###9(36%) 12(38.7%)21(37.5%) 0.835###18(72%)###17(53.1%) 35(61.4%) 0.146

###SNAP/CMAP###9(36%) 12(38.7%)21(37.5%) 0.835###18(72%)###17(53.1%) 35(61.4%) 0.146

###CV###9(36%) 12(38.7%)21(37.5%) 0.835###18(72%)###16(51.6%) 34(60.7%) 0.120

###Ulnar nerve

###DL###5(20%) 8(26.7%) 13(23.6%)0.562###15(60%) 13(43.3%) 28(50.9%) 0.218

###SNAP/CMAP###5(20%) 8(26.7%) 13(23.6%)0.562###14(58.3%) 13(43.3%) 27(50%) 0.273

###CV###5(20%) 8(26.7%) 13(23.6%)0.562###14(58.3%) 11(39.3%) 25(48.1%) 0.171

###Tibial nerve

###DL###-###-###-###-###9(60%)###10(47.6%) 19(52.8%)0.463

###CMAP###-###-###-###-###9(60%)###10(47.6%) 19(52.8%)0.463

###CV###-###-###-###-###8(57.1%) 10(47.6%) 18(51.4%)0.581

###Peroneal nerve

###DL###-###-###-###-###7(46.7%) 12(57.1%) 19(52.8%)0.535

###CMAP###-###-###-###-###7(46.7%) 12(57.1%) 19(52.8%)0.535

###CV###-###-###-###-###7(46.7%) 10(52.6%)17(50%) 0.730

###Sural nerve

###DL###2(11.8%)2(9.10%) 4(10.3%) 0.785###-###-###-###-

###SNAP###1(6.3%) 2(9.10%)3(7.9%) 0.748###-###-###-###-

###CV###1(6.3%) 2(9.10%)3(7.9%) 0.748###-###-###-###-

Table-V: Distrubution of sensory and motor nerve impairment in patients with abnormal SSR.

Sensory###Motor

###SSR normal###SSR abnormal Total###p###SSR Normal SSR abnormal###Total###p

Median nerve

DL###11(61.1%) 12(25.5%)###23(35.4%)0.007###16(84.2%)###20(43.5%)###36(55.4%) 0.003

SNAP/CMAP###11(61.1%) 12(25.5%)###23(35.4%)0.007###16(84.2%)###20(43.5%)###36(55.4%) 0.003

CV###11(61.1%) 12(25.5%)###23(35.4%)0.007###16(84.2%)###19(42.2%)###35(54.7%) 0.002

Ulnar nerve

DL###9(50%)###5(11.1%)###14(22.2%)0.001###13(72.2%)###15(33.3%)###28(44.4%) 0.005

SNAP/CMAP###9(50%)###5(11.1%)###14(22.2%)0.001###12(70.6%)###15(33.3%)###27(43.5%) 0.008

CV###9(50%)###5(11.1%)###14(22.2%)0.001###10(66.7%)###14(32.6%)###24(41.4%) 0.021

Tibial nerve

DL###-###-###-###-###9(64.3%) 10(41.7%)###19(50%)0.179

CMAP###-###-###-###-###9(64.3%) 10(41.7%)###19(50%)0.179

CV###-###-###-###-###8(61.5%) 10(41.7%)###18(48.6%)0.248

Peroneal nerve

DL###-###-###-###-###10(71.4%)9(37.5%)###19(50%)0.044

CMAP###-###-###-###-###10(71.4%)9(37.5%)###19(50%)0.044

CV###-###-###-###-###10(71.4%) 8(34.8%)###18(48.6%)0.031

Sural nerve

DL###2(13.3%) 3(11.5%)###5(12.2%)0.866 -###-###-###-

SNAP###2(13.3%) 2(8%)###4(10%) 0.586-###-###-###-

CV###2(13.3%) 2(8%)###4(10%) 0.586-###-###-###-

most commonly affects the posterior tibial nerve causing anesthesia on the soles of the feet followed by the ulnar median lateral popliteal and fasial nerve. Other nerves affected by the disease include the greater auricular radial and radial cutaneous nerves.191220 Ramadan et al. assessed 40 patients be- ing the ulnar nerve the most frequent damaged and the claw hand the most common disability. All the sensory modalities were affected: superficial and deep sensitivities. However deep pressure was al- tered only on late cases. The sensory impairment predominated over the motor.21 Jardim et al. stud- ied 19 patients with primary neural leprosy and clinically they found sensory and motor losses in78.9% followed by neural thickening 68.4%.22 Ulnar nerve was the most common affected nerve in our study. One radial nerve (drop hand) and one pero- neal nerve (drop foot) were also detected. Neural thickening was detected in 44.12% of all cases.The neurophysiological evaluation is more sensi- tive than the clinical examination for the detection of nerve impairment and the presence of abnor- malities is frequent even on nonenlarged nerves. Patients without clinical involvement presented neurophysiological abnormalities in 40% of the cas- es.2324 Our cases had serious clinical involvement and severe disability caused by long term sustain- ing leprosy disease. McKnight J et al. in leprosy pa- tients in northern India it was found that the com- monest and the earliest impairment was reported in sensory nerve conduction of sural nerve.25 Kar S et al. reported a more often and early involvement of ulnar nerve.26 In our study only in 4 cases sural nerve sensory response was observed. Ulnar nerve sensory response was lower than median nerve sensory response. Motor responses were absent in most of the cases (median nerve 46.8% ulnar nerve58.4% tibial nerve 72.7% peroneal nerve 70.1%) si- miliar to Soysal A et al.'s study. In this study we also investigated autonomic nerve impairment and SSR was absent in 79.3% of the cases. Compared to the controls the RRIV values of the patients were found to be reduced during both resting and forced deep hyperventilation. In our study abnormal SSR were recorded in 63 (81.8%) cases of leprosy. Abnormal RRIV was recorded in 41 (53.2%) cases and abnormal RRIV HV was recorded in 55 (71.4%) cases of leprosy.The RRIV and SSR reveale autonomic nervous system dysfunction. The RRIV assessment para- sympathetic function in the distribution of the va- gus nerve. Whereas the SSR assessment sudomotor function controlled by the sympathetic nervous sys- tem.2728 Both the RRIV and the SSR are often affect- ed simultaneously in autonomic dysfunction. But it is not surprising that this effect does not always occur in paralel. Ulvi H et al. observed that there was significant correlation between RRIV and SSR. But there was no significant correlation between duration of leprosy. In this study the mean dura- tion of disease was 16.73 years.29 Ramachandran et al. reported association between severity autonom- ic neuropathy and longer duration of leprosy. In this study it was shown that parasympathetic sys- tem was affected more than sympathetic system.30Philips JC et al investigated the relationship be- tween duration of leprosy disease type 1 diabetus mellitus and autonomic neuropathy. Patients were divided into four groups according to diabetes du- ration (less than 10 years 11-20 years 21-30 years and greater than 30 years from group 1 to group 4 respectively) and compared to the age-matched non-diabetic subjects and it was shown that parasympathetic system was affected more than sympathetic system.31 In our study the mean duration of disease was 35.5818.30 years. We did not evaluate the correlation between the duration of leprosy and autonomic neuropathy because of the long term of the disease. However autonomic nerve involvement was together with peripheral nerve involvement and SSR affection was more than RRIV effect.In conclusion leprosy is an important disease causing severe physical disability although it has a reduced prevelance. Peripheral and autonomic nerve involvement was frequent and severe in our cases. Different than other studies SSR involve- ment was more frequent than RRIV abnormality. Its cause can be due to severity of our leprosy cases and longer diasease duration.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSWe would like to thank to the staff of Leprosy Clinic of Professor Turkan Saylan and our laboratory of electrophysiology and Rana Konyalioglu for statistics.

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that thereis no conflict of interest.

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