Silent neuropathy in patients with leprosy in the city of Fortaleza, Ceará State, Brazil

One of the clinical forms of Hansen's disease is silent neuropathy, which consists of progressive nerve damage in the absence of pain and hypersensitivity to palpation. This study estimated the proportion of silent neuropathy and associated factors. A cross-sectional study was performed in Fortaleza, Ceará State, Brazil. Patients were asked about the presence of decreased sensation involving touch, heat, pain, and numbness. Nerves were palpated to identify thickness, abscess, and pain. Lymph samples were drawn for parasitological tests. Strength of voluntary muscles in the feet and hands was evaluated. The sensitivity of specific points on the feet and hands was measured using Semmes-Weinstein monofilament. The sample included 233 patients. The proportion of silent neuropathy was 5.6% (95%CI: 3.0-9.4), and factors significantly associated with silent neuropathy were: age (p = 0.011) and disability (p < 0.000). These results will help identify cases of silent neuropathy, targeting patients at higher risk.

Leprosy; Neuritis; Sensation Disorders


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