Aims: Vibration perception thresholds (VPTs) are used frequently to assess somatosensory pathways in clinical trials. Different equipment, testing paradigms, and stimulation sites produce varying results which make comparisons between trials and patient populations challenging. Information comparing the VPT obtained with the Neurothesiometer with that with the Vibratron is available, but not for a similar comparison with the CASE IV (computer-assisted sensory examination device).
Methods: Subjects (n = 478) including reference, non-neuropathic subjects with diabetes mellitus (DM), and diabetic patients with mild, moderate and severe diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy (DSP) had VPTs measured with the CASE IV and Neurothesiometer, as well as standard sural nerve conduction studies (NCS), all performed during the same half-day. The dorsum of the foot was used as the site of stimulation for the CASE IV VPT determination and the distal phalanx of the first toe for the Neurothesiometer.
Results: VPTs by the CASE IV and the Neurothesiometer compared moderately by linear regression analyses (R2 = 0.547, P < 0.0001), and by 95% confidence intervals. Sensitivity for the diagnosis of mild DSP was 70% with the Neurothesiometer and 49% with the CASE IV. VPTs determined by either the Neurothesiometer or the CASE IV correlated with similar agreement to the sural nerve action potential amplitude as determined by nerve conduction studies (NCS) (R2 = 0.456 and 0.461, respectively, P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The results demonstrated a significant correlation of VPT values in different stages of DSP obtained by the two methods. The Neurothesiometer was more sensitive for the diagnosis of DSP, particularly in those with mild neuropathy. Similar correlations between VPTs and electrophysiological parameters were observed, indicating that both methods are valid, and thus the Neurothesiometer may be preferable due to the ease and rapidity of testing by this method.