The prognosis of hexacarbon induced polyneuropathy is usually good, though its clinical course after the cessation of exposure has not been described in detail. Eleven patients with moderate to severe n-hexane induced polyneuropathy due to occupational exposure were regularly followed up for a period of four years at the neurological department of the National Taiwan University Hospital. Sensorimotor neuropathy was diagnosed in nine patients and motor neuropathy in two. All were removed from further exposure to n-hexane after aetiological confirmation, but motor disturbance continued to worsen in five cases. Sensory functions were regained earlier than motor functions. All the patients, including one who was tetraplegic and confined to a wheelchair in the early stages, regained their full motor capabilities within one to four years. Three patients with severe neuropathy had residual muscle atrophy in the intrinsic foot and hand muscles. Signs of damage to the central nervous system, including increased tendon reflexes in two patients and leg tightness in six patients, emerged as muscle power was nearing complete recovery. The tightness of the legs gradually disappeared, but muscle cramps of the calves developed and these were still present at the end of follow up. Two patients had mild abnormal colour vision, and the abnormality was still detectable four years later. It is concluded that n-hexane induced neuropathy has a good prognosis, and that spasticity due to damage to the central nervous system is functionally reversible; muscle cramps and dyschromatopsia persist much longer.
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