[The assessment of sudomotor function for diagnosis of autonomic diseases. Principles and methods].

Research paper by F F Birklein, A A Spitzer, B B Riedl

Indexed on: 12 Aug '99Published on: 12 Aug '99Published in: Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie


Thermoregulatory and emotional sweating can be distinguished in humans. While the first is organized via feed back mechanisms involving thermoreceptors, thermoregulatory centers in the brain and the effector system (sympathetic nervous system and sweat glands), the latter is generated directly by cortical and limbic mechanisms without any feed back. Sweat glands on the hairy skin can be stimulated by thermoregulatory mechanisms (rising body temperature), the emotional sweating on the glabrous skin as a result of an arousal reaction and they can be stimulated by peripheral acting cholinergic agents, which initiate direct or axon reflex mediated sweating. To evaluate sweating there are qualitative methods that visualize the sweat response or indirect methods like the registration of skin potentials. Alternatively sweat output can be quantified by evaporative measurement. For best results these methods should be combined. In this way autonomic dysfunction e.g. after nerve lesions, in polyneuropathies, central lesions and certain pain disorders can be assessed. The sudomotor function tests complete the conventional electrophysiological methods.