Neurological manifestations of leprosy

Thomas R. Swift, Thomas D. Sabin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND - Leprosy affects millions worldwide and is surprisingly common in the United States. Leprous neuritis is the most common treatable neuropathy. REVIEW SUMMARY - Leprosy is the only disease in which bacteria regularly invade peripheral nerves, with a predilection for Schwann cells. Because of a low temperature optimum for mycobacterial growth, nerve damage occurs in cool areas, leading to a unique temperature-linked neuropathy. Recognition of the neurologic features permits early diagnosis and effective treatment with rifampin, dapsone, and clofazimine. Leprosy occurs in high-, medium-, and low-resistance forms. Superimposed reactions are immunologic phenomena that profoundly affect the degree of nerve damage. Stigma and rehabilitation are important aspects of leprosy. CONCLUSION - Leprosy produces a characteristic neuropathy easily recognizable by a neurologist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998


  • Diagnosis
  • Leprosy
  • Mycobacterium leprae
  • Neuritis
  • Thalidomide
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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