Nerve conduction studies and current perception thresholds in workers assessed for hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Lander L, Lou W, House R.
Occup Med (Lond). 2007 Jun;57(4):284-9. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

BACKGROUND: Workers exposed to hand-arm vibration are at risk of developing the neurological abnormalities of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). The Stockholm classification of the neurological component of HAVS is based on history and physical examination. There is a need to determine the association between neurological tests and the Stockholm scale.

AIMS: The main objective of this study was to compare the Stockholm neurological scale and the results of current perception threshold (CPT) tests and nerve conduction studies (NCS).

METHODS: Detailed physical examinations were done on 162 subjects referred for HAVS assessment at a specialist occupational health clinic. All subjects had NCS and measurement of CPT. The Stockholm neurological classification was carried out blinded to the results of these neurological tests and compared to the test results.

RESULTS: The nerve conduction results indicated that median and ulnar neuropathies proximal to the hand are common in workers being assessed for HAVS. Digital sensory neuropathy was found in only one worker. Neither the nerve conduction results nor the current perception results had a strong association with the Stockholm neurological scale. Exposure to vibration in total hours was the main variable associated with the Stockholm neurological scale [right hand: OR 1.30, 95% CI (1.10-1.54); left hand: OR 1.18, 95% CI (1.0-1.39)].

CONCLUSION: Workers being assessed for HAVS should have nerve conduction testing to detect neuropathies proximal to the hand. Quantitative sensory tests such as current perception measurement are insufficient for diagnostic purposes but may have a role in screening workers exposed to vibration.

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