A device to measure secretion of individual sweat glands for diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy

Adam J. Loavenbruck, James S. Hodges, Vincenzo Provitera, Maria Nolano, Gwen Wendelshafer-Crabb, William R. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


There is a need for quantitative, precise assessment of small fiber peripheral nerve function. We tested a customized camera device and protocol designed to quantify secretions of individual sweat glands (SGs). Testing was performed on 178 healthy controls and 20 neuropathy subjects. Sweating was stimulated on a 2.25 cm2 skin area by iontophoresis of pilocarpine. The camera imaged sweat from 50 to 400 sweat ducts. We calculated secretion rate of individual SGs, total sweat volume, and number of secreting SGs at four body sites. Neuropathy subjects were tested at the two distal sites to demonstrate the device's capability to detect abnormal sudomotor function. Normal ranges were calculated for each body site. Neuropathy subjects had lower sweat rates per SG, lower total sweat, and lower SG density. The normal values decreased with advancing age, were lower in females, and differed between body sites. There was good agreement with repeat testing. The device provides reliable, precise quantitative measures of sweat secretion from single SGs for characterization of sudomotor nerve function in healthy control subjects and in subjects with known peripheral neuropathy. The test combines the capabilities of existing tests of sudomotor function while providing additional capabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Peripheral Nervous System
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Peripheral Nerve Society


  • autonomic diseases
  • clinical neurophysiology
  • diagnostic test assessment
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • sweat test


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