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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Acetylcholine sweatspot test for autonomic denervation.

A test for autonomic denervation based on the local sweat response to 0.1 ml 1% acetylcholine administered intradermally, which depends on an intact local sympathetic supply, is described. Diabetic autonomic neuropathy affects the longest fibres first and thus the test was applied to the feet. After painting a standard site on the dorsum of the foot with iodine and starch, acetylcholine was injected intradermally in the centre. The normal response, visible to the eye, is a uniform distribution of dark spots of iodine discolouration at the sites of sweat production. In diabetic autonomic neuropathy this pattern is lost to a varying degree. In a photographic image magnified x 10, the spots were counted in sixty 2.5 cm squares in a grid centred on the injection site. 50 normal volunteers aged 18-69 were tested. No effect of age or sex was found. Five or more squares with less than 6 spots was the definition of abnormal. 24 diabetic men who complained of impotence were investigated with the sweatspot test, a pupil test, and cardiovascular autonomic function tests. 13 had abnormal sweatspot tests with scores up to sixty squares with less than 6 spots. In keeping with the increased length of the sympathetic fibres to the feet compared with those to the iris, there was a 30% false-negative rate for the pupil test if the sweatspot test is taken as standard. Agreement between the cardiovascular tests and the sweatspot test was seen in only 17 patients. The sweatspot test appears to be a more sensitive indicator of autonomic neuropathy than the commonly used cardiovascular tests.[1]


  1. Acetylcholine sweatspot test for autonomic denervation. Ryder, R.E., Marshall, R., Johnson, K., Ryder, A.P., Owens, D.R., Hayes, T.M. Lancet (1988) [Pubmed]
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