Author(s): Perkins BA, Olaleye D, Zinman B, Bril V
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: The utility of rapid and reliable sensory tests appropriate for the diagnosis of neuropathy in the diabetes clinic, rather than as prognostic tools for the prediction of foot complications, has been unclear because of limitations inherent in previous studies. Although clinical practice guidelines recommend annual screening for neuropathy, they are unable to support specific recommendations for screening maneuvers because of a lack of evidence for the validity of screening tests in the medical literature. The objective of this study was to assess the operating characteristics of four simple sensory screening maneuvers as compared with standardized electrophysiological tests in the diagnosis of distal symmetrical polyneuropathy. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We assessed four simple tests (the 10-g Semmes-Weinstein monofilament examination [SWME], superficial pain sensation, vibration testing by the on-off method, and vibration testing by the timed method) in 478 subjects with independent blinded evaluations compared against the criterion standard of nerve conduction studies. We present receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves, positive and negative likelihood ratios, and sensitivity and specificity values for each test. RESULTS: The four simple screening maneuvers reveal similar operating characteristics. Cutoff points by ROC curve analyses reveal that a positive or abnormal test is represented by five incorrect responses of eight stimuli applied. A negative or normal test is represented by one or fewer incorrect responses of eight stimuli applied. By these criteria, the point estimates of the positive likelihood ratios for vibration testing by the on-off method, vibration testing by the timed method, the SWME, and superficial pain sensation test are 26.6, 18.5, 10.2, and 9.2, respectively. The point estimates of the negative likelihood ratios are 0.33, 0.51, 0.34, and 0.50, respectively The screening tests showed comparable sensitivity and specificity results. The 10-g SWME, superficial pain test, and vibration testing by the on-off method are rapid, each requiring approximately 60 s to administer. The timed vibration test takes longer, and the interpretation is more complicated. The combination of two simple tests (e.g., the 10-g SWME and vibration testing by the on-off method) does not add value to each individual screening test. CONCLUSIONS: Annual screening for diabetic neuropathy should be conducted using superficial pain sensation testing, SWME, or vibration testing by the on-off method. The reported operating characteristics for each sensory modality can be applied to positive findings on the physical examination of individual patients to predict the likelihood of neuropathy.
This article was published in Diabetes Care
and referenced in Journal of Novel Physiotherapies