1. A disease process involving a number of peripheral nerves (literal sense). 2. A nontraumatic generalized disorder of peripheral nerves, affecting the distal fibers most severely, with proximal shading ( e.g., the feet are affected sooner or more severely than the hands), and typically symmetrically; most often affects motor and sensory fibers almost equally, but can involve either one solely or very disproportionately; classified as axon degenerating (axonal), or demyelinating; many causes, particularly metabolic and toxic; familial or sporadic in nature. SYN: polyneuritis. SYN: multiple neuritis, symmetric distal neuropathy. [poly- + G. neuron, nerve, + pathos, disease]
- acute inflammatory p. SYN: Guillain-Barré syndrome.
- alcoholic p. a nutritional axon loss p. associated with chronic alcoholism.
- arsenical p. an axon loss p. that results from subacute or chronic arsenic poisoning; almost always preceded by gastrointestinal symptoms; one of the heavy metal neuropathies.
- axonal p. SYN: axon loss p..
- axon loss p. a type of p. in which axon degeneration is the sole/predominant feature; many etiologies, particularly toxic and metabolic; on nerve conduction studies, affects amplitudes of the responses, but does not cause conduction slowing or block. SYN: axonal p..
- buckthorn p. ascending p. resulting from ingestion of the fruit of Karwinskia humboldtiana.
- chronic inflammatory demyelinating p. (CIDP) an uncommon, acquired, demyelinating sensorimotor p., clinically characterized by insidious onset, slow evolution, (either steady progression or stepwise), and chronic course; symmetric weakness is a predominant symptom, often involving proximal leg muscles, accompanied by paresthesias, but not pain; CSF examination shows elevated protein, while electrodiagnostic studies reveal evidence of a demyelinating process, primarily conduction slowing rather than block; sometimes responds to prednisone.
- critical illness p. a diffuse axon loss sensorimotor p. seen in severely ill patients, usually in the intensive care unit; most patients have been on multiple drugs and cannot be weaned from ventilatory support; electrodiagnostic studies show evidence of an axon loss p., predominantly motor; of unknown etiology.
- demyelinating p. a type of p. in which almost solely the peripheral nerve myelin is affected; can be familial ( e.g., Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, type 1) or acquired ( e.g., Guillain-Barré syndrome); on motor nerve conduction studies, manifested as conduction slowing or block. SYN: segmental demyelinating p..
- diabetic p. a distal, symmetric, generally sensorimotor p. that is a frequent complication of diabetes mellitus.
- isoniazid p. an axonal loss p. seen in some patients treated with isoniazid.
- nitrofurantoin p. an axon loss p., often severe, seen in some patients treated with nitrofurantoin, particularly patients with chronic renal failure.
- nutritional p. an axon loss p. noted in beriberi, chronic alcoholism, and other clinical states, resulting from thiamin deficiency.
- progressive hypertrophic p. SYN: Dejerine-Sottas disease.
- segmental demyelinating p. SYN: demyelinating p..
- uremic p. a distal sensory and motor p. without conspicuous inflammation and ascribed to the metabolic effects of chronic renal failure.

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poly·neu·rop·a·thy -n(y)u̇-'räp-ə-thē n, pl -thies a disease of nerves esp a noninflammatory degenerative disease of nerves usu. caused by toxins (as of lead)

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poly·neu·rop·a·thy (pol″e-n-ropґə-the) [poly- + neuropathy] neuropathy of several peripheral nerves simultaneously; called also multiple or peripheral neuropathy. Some conditions that are actually polyneuropathies are called neuropathies; see under neuropathy.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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