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      Distinguishing Radiculopathies from Mononeuropathies

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          Abstract

          Identifying “where is the lesion” is particularly important in the approach to the patient with focal dysfunction where a peripheral localization is suspected. This article outlines a methodical approach to the neuromuscular patient in distinguishing focal neuropathies versus radiculopathies, both of which are common presentations to the neurology clinic. This approach begins with evaluation of the sensory examination to determine whether there are irritative or negative sensory signs in a peripheral nerve or dermatomal distribution. This is followed by evaluation of deep tendon reflexes to evaluate if differential hyporeflexia can assist in the two localizations. Finally, identification of weak muscle groups unique to a nerve or myotomal pattern in the proximal and distal extremities can most reliably assist in a precise localization. The article concludes with an application of the described method to the common scenario of distinguishing radial neuropathy versus C7 radiculopathy in the setting of a wrist drop and provides additional examples for self-evaluation and reference.

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          Most cited references 15

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          An evidence-based approach to human dermatomes.

          The dermatome is a fundamental concept in human anatomy and of major importance in clinical practice. There are significant variations in current dermatome maps in standard anatomy texts. The aim of this study was to undertake a systematic literature review of the available evidence for the distribution of human dermatomes. Particular emphasis was placed on the technique of ascertainment, the location and extent of each dermatome, the number of subjects studied, and methodologic limitations. Our findings demonstrate that current dermatome maps are inaccurate and based on flawed studies. After selecting the best available evidence, a novel evidence-based dermatome map was constructed. This represents the most consistent tactile dermatomal areas for each spinal dorsal nerve root found in most individuals. In addition to highlighting the orderly arrangement, areas of consistency and clinical usefulness of dermatomes, their overlap and variability deserve greater emphasis. This review demonstrates the validity of an evidence-based approach to an anatomical concept.
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            Foot drop: where, why and what to do?

            Foot drop is a common and distressing problem that can lead to falls and injury. Although the most frequent cause is a (common) peroneal neuropathy at the neck of the fibula, other causes include anterior horn cell disease, lumbar plexopathies, L5 radiculopathy and partial sciatic neuropathy. And even when the nerve lesion is clearly at the fibular neck there are a variety of causes that may not be immediately obvious; habitual leg crossing may well be the most frequent cause and most patients improve when they stop this habit. A meticulous neurological evaluation goes a long way to ascertain the site of the lesion. Nerve conduction and electromyographic studies are useful adjuncts in localising the site of injury, establishing the degree of damage and predicting the degree of recovery. Imaging is important in establishing the cause of foot drop be it at the level of the spine, along the course of the sciatic nerve or in the popliteal fossa; ultrasonography, CT and MR imaging are all useful. For patients with a severe foot drop of any cause, an ankle foot orthosis is a helpful device that enables them to walk better and more safely.
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              AAEE minimonograph #32: the electrophysiologic examination in patients with radiculopathies.

              A brief history of the evolution of radiculopathy as a clinical entity, and the use of electrodiagnostic studies to diagnose it, are provided. Root anatomy and the concept of myotomes and dermatomes are reviewed, as is the pathophysiology of radiculopathy. The value and limitations of the various electrophysiologic procedures used in the diagnosis of radiculopathies are discussed, including motor and sensory nerve conduction studies, late responses, somatosensory evoked potentials, nerve root stimulation, and the needle electrode examination. The specific muscles are enumerated which most often appear abnormal on needle electromyography with lesions of the various roots. The electrodiagnostic differentiation of root lesions from plexus lesions is described, and the various electrodiagnostic findings with lumbar canal stenosis are discussed. Finally, the value and limitations of the electrodiagnostic assessment in the evaluation of patients with suspected radiculopathies are reviewed.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                1Division of Neurology, University Health Network (UHN), University of Toronto , Toronto, ON, Canada
                Author notes

                Edited by: Adolfo Ramirez-Zamora, Albany Medical College, USA

                Reviewed by: Ignacio Jose Previgliano, Maimonides University School of Medicine, Argentina; Robert Jerome Frysztak, Loyola University Chicago, USA

                *Correspondence: Hans Katzberg, hans.katzberg@ 123456utoronto.ca

                Specialty section: This article was submitted to Neurology Education, a section of the journal Frontiers in Neurology

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Neurol
                Front Neurol
                Front. Neurol.
                Frontiers in Neurology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-2295
                13 July 2016
                2016
                : 7
                27468275 4942461 10.3389/fneur.2016.00111
                Copyright © 2016 Robblee and Katzberg.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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                Figures: 0, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 19, Pages: 5, Words: 3867
                Categories
                Neuroscience
                Curriculum, Instruction, and Pedagogy

                Neurology

                radiculopathy, nerve root, neuromuscular, mononeuropathy, focal neuropathy

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