Peripheral neuropathy in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Peripheral neuropathy (PN) in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients has been reported as individual cases or small series; however, its clinical and electrodiagnostic features have not been well characterized. We conducted a retrospective review of patients with PN and either Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC). Eighteen patients with CD and 15 patients with UC were identified after other PN causes were excluded. Male predominance and mean age of PN presentation in the fifties was seen in both groups. Demyelinating neuropathy (CIDP or MMN) occurred in close to 30% of the patients, in a higher percentage of women, than in the non-demyelinating patients. One-third of CD and UC patients had small-fibre or large-fibre sensory axonal PN, while approximately 40% of the CD and UC patients had large-fibre axonal sensorimotor PN. PN symptoms began earlier in the course of CD than in UC (P < 0.05). Patients with large-fibre axonal PN were older than patients with small-fibre sensory axonal PN (P < 0.05). Close to 60% of each group received immunotherapy with different agents. Half of those treated with CD and 40% with UC had demyelinating PN. Most of the patients who completed immunotherapy in both groups improved; all the patients with demyelinating neuropathy had either moderate or major improvement. The PN syndromes in IBD patients are diverse. Demyelinating forms may occur at any time, but early in the IBD course, pure sensory neuropathy is more common. Response to immunotherapy may occur in both demyelinating and axonal neuropathies.


  1. 1Department of Neurology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, USA and 2Departamento de Fisiologia e Farmacologia, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to: Thomas Brannagan III, MD, Peripheral Neuropathy Center, Department of Neurology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 635 Madison Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10022, USA E-mail:
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One thought on “Peripheral neuropathy in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

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