The new age of sudomotor function testing: a sensitive and specific biomarker for diagnosis, estimation of severity, monitoring progression, and regression in response to intervention

Vinik AI, Nevoret ML, Casellini C.

Frontiers in Endo 2015;Jun 11;6:94.


Sudorimetry technology has evolved dramatically, as a rapid, non-invasive, robust, and accurate biomarker for small fibers that can easily be integrated into clinical practice. Though skin biopsy with quantitation of intraepidermal nerve fiber density is still currently recognized as the gold standard, sudorimetry may yield diagnostic information not only on autonomic dysfunction but also enhance the assessment of the small somatosensory nerves, disease detection, progression, and response to therapy. Sudorimetry can be assessed using SUDOSCAN™, which measures electrochemical skin conductance (ESC) of hands and feet. It is based on different electrochemical principles (reverse iontophoresis and chronoamperometry) to measure sudomotor function than prior technologies, affording it a much more practical and precise performance profile for routine clinical use with potential as a research tool. Small nerve fiber dysfunction has been found to occur early in metabolic syndrome and diabetes and may also be the only neurological manifestation in small fiber neuropathies, beneath the detection limits of traditional nerve function tests. Test results are robust, accomplished within minutes, require little technical training and no calculations, since established norms have been provided for the effects of age, gender, and ethnicity. Sudomotor testing has been greatly under-utilized in the past, restricted to specialized centers capable of handling the technically demanding and expensive technology. Yet, evaluation of autonomic and somatic nerve function has been shown to be one of the best estimates of cardiovascular risk. Evaluation of sweating has the appeal of quantifiable non-invasive determination of the integrity of the peripheral autonomic nervous system, and can now be accomplished rapidly at point of care clinics with the determination of ESC, allowing intervention for morbid complications prior to permanent structural nerve damage. We review here sudomotor function testing technology, the research evidence accumulated supporting the clinical utility of measuring ESC, the medical applications of sudorimetry now available to physicians with this device, and clinical vignettes illustrating its use in the clinical decision-making process.