Clinical and laboratory assessment of distal peripheral nerves in Gulf War veterans and spouses

Larry E. Davis, S. A. Eisen, F. M. Murphy, R. Alpern, B. J. Parks, M. Blanchard, D. J. Reda, M. K. King, F. A. Mithen, H. K. Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: The prevalence of symptoms suggesting distal symmetric polyneuropathy (DSP) was reported to be higher among deployed veterans (DV) to the Persian Gulf in 1990-1991 than to control non-deployed veterans (NDV). The authors therefore compared the prevalence of DSP by direct examination of DV and their spouses to control NDV and spouses. Methods: The authors performed standardized neurologic examinations on 1,061 DV and 1,128 NDV selected from a cohort of veterans who previously participated in a national mail and telephone survey. Presence of DSP was evaluated by history, physical examination, and standardized electrophysiologic assessment of motor and sensory nerves. Similar examinations were performed without electrophysiologic tests in 484 DV spouses and 533 NDV spouses. Statistical analyses were performed with appropriate adjustments for the stratified sampling scheme. Results: No differences between adjusted population prevalence of DSP in DV and NDV were found by electrophysiology (3.7% vs 6.3%, p = 0.07), by neurologic examination (3.1% vs 2.6%, p = 0.60), or by the methods combined (6.3% vs 7.3%, p = 0.47). Excluding veterans with non-military service related diseases that may cause DSP did not alter outcomes. DV potentially exposed to neurotoxins from the Khamisiyah ammunition depot explosion did not significantly differ in DSP prevalence compared to non-exposed DV. The prevalence of DSP in DV spouses did not differ from NDV spouses (2.7% vs 3.2%, p = 0.64). Conclusions: Neither veterans deployed during the Gulf War era nor their spouses had a higher prevalence of DSP compared to NDV and spouses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1070-1077
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 29 2004


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