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Dr. Frank
Dr. Frank, Board Certified Physician
Category: Neurology
Satisfied Customers: 9000
Experience:  Board certified general Adult Neurologist, with experience in experimental neuroimaging and neurodiagnostics.
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I have been a hatmaker years. The first 6 years of my

Customer Question

Hello... I have been a hatmaker for 12 years. The first 6 years of my hatting career I was exposed to MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) by spraying hat stiffner into the hats. I was young and dumb and sprayed it inside with a NOT well ventilated area. I'm assuming
the MEK was combined with other ingredients so it wasn't strictly MEK. Six years ago I became aware of the what I was inhauling so I switched to another product that contains Methyl Alcohol and Methyl Isobutyl Keytone however I spray outside and am much more
careful how I use it. About seven years ago I started having a neuralgia in my right collar bone. It fires every so often...sometimes I will go months without it and sometimes it will fire more often. I don't know if the neuralgia was because of the chemical
or something that "just" started. I have this terrible fear that I have done something to my body that I didn't realize by inhauiling the MEK. I had a brain MRI about three years ago in fear that I had came up clean, but I continue to have this terrible
fear of it (or something else) because of the MEK. My question is is there some type of nervous system evaluation that I could to put my mind an ease that there is/or is not damage done. Or is this something that I will just have to see how it plays out long
term? I would truly be grateful for your response. Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Neurology
Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.

Hello. MEK can cause in high concentrations as an acute toxicity, or as low level chronic toxicity changes to the peripheral nerve. This would not be seen in an MRI of the brain or spinal cord. The way to test the peripheral nerves is to see a neurologist, who will order some tox screening tests (blood tests) looking for certain antibodies to components of the peripheral nerve. He will also do a neurodiagnostic test, an EMG/NCS study which evaluates the electrical properties of the nerve. The peripheral nerve can be affected 2 ways, the myelin or insulation can be damaged, or the inner tube of the axon can be damaged, or a combination of both. This test will evaluate those aspects without giving an idea as to cause, for example, diabetes could cause similar changes, and this test cannot differentiate.

I suggest you see a neurologist with your concerns. Get the MSDS on MEK to take with you. Please get back to me to discuss this further, or rate my service as that is how I am compensated for my work. To find a neurologist, go to

Dr Frank