From the Journals

Sensitivity of vibration-based neuropathy detectors varies widely



Three vibration-based detection tools vary widely in their sensitivity for detection of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Researchers are suggesting that physicians use more than a single vibration-based device when they check the sensitivity of their diabetic patients’ feet.

“This would significantly reduce the proportion of patients with diabetes who would be falsely identified as having no peripheral neuropathy and subsequently denied the benefit of beneficial and effective secondary risk factor control,” said study coauthor Cynthia Formosa, PhD, of the University of Malta, Msida, and Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, England, in an interview.

Researchers have estimated that 50% of patients with diabetes develop diabetic polyneuropathy over their lives, and that the condition is responsible for more than a quarter of all diabetes spending. “Despite a long history of research in this area, we are only starting to understand the pathophysiology of the disease,” reports a 2016 review of recent findings.

In a previous report, several of the authors of the new study analyzed 10 sets of guidelines regarding diabetic foot and found that some lacked information to back up the recommendations. Guideline limitations “are responsible for the current gaps between guidelines, standard clinical practice, and development of complications,” the researchers wrote (Rev Diabet Stud. 2016, 13[2-3]:158-86).

Most of the guidelines recommended the use of a 10-g monofilament test, in which a monofilament is placed against the skin, plus a vibration-based test, the researchers reported.

For the new study in Primary Care Diabetes, the researchers examined the efficacy of three noninvasive tools that are used to detect neuropathy in the foot: the 128-Hz tuning fork; the VibraTip, a pocket-sized, motorized device; and the neurothesiometer, a 7-pound electromechanical device that comes in a carrying case and includes an attachment that delivers vibrations to the body.

According to Dr. Formosa, the tuning fork is the most commonly used testing device in normal clinical practice.

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