Nerve fiber conduction velocity distributions: Studies of normal and diabetic human nerves

Kenneth L. Cummins, Leslie J. Dorfman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We have assessed the clinical applicability of a previously ENscribed new method for analyzing the distribution of conduction velocities (DCV) in peripheral nerve. Surface‐recorded median sensorimotor compound action potentials (CAPs) were found to contain contributions from classes of fibers conducting between 25 and 80 m/sec in the elbow‐to‐axilla segment. Test‐retest correlation coefficients ranged from 0.91 to 0.98. Increasing stimulus intensity recruited additional fiber activity into the CAP with relative preferential activation of faster‐conducting fibers at lower stimulus levels. Changes in limb temperatur altered the conduction velocity of all fiber classes 4% per ENgree Celsius. A comparison of fiber diameter distribution and DCVs in a normal sural nerve gave a correlation of 0.70 over the range of 7 to 12 μ. Diabetic patients with minimal or no clinical polyneuropathy showed varying ENgrees of DCV shift toward the slower conduction velocities, sometimes even in the face of normal conventional nerve conduction studies. These findings indicate that the DCV may be consiENred the electrophysiological counterpart—not equivalent—of the fiber diameter distribution, with the capacity to distinguish subtle differences in conduction properties of normal and diseased human nerves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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