Physicians such as endocrinologists and podiatrists use the vibrations produced by the devices to detect whether patients have normal levels of sensation in various parts of the foot and ankle. “Vibration testing is extremely important,” the study investigators wrote, “since in the initial stages of neuropathy, the vibratory sensory system is amongst the first component of the nervous system to be affected.”
However, research into the accuracy of the devices has been inconsistent, according to the investigators.
The researchers prospectively recruited 100 patients at primary health centers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for at least 10 years. The subjects included 57 males and 43 females, with a mean age of 73 years (± 7.8 years). Practitioners tested the neuropathy detection tools on the patients and recorded whether they felt vibrations.
The study authors reported that 29% of patients didn’t perceive vibrations produced by the VibraTip, compared with 21% for the neurothesiometer and 12% for the 128-Hz tuning fork (P less than .001).