Peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetic foot ulcers: clinical and nerve conduction study

J Neurol Sci. 2007 Jul 15;258(1-2):75-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2007.02.028. Epub 2007 Apr 2.


Objectives: Diabetic foot lesions develop predominantly in male patients and sensory neuropathy is the most frequent type of neuropathy associated with these lesions. The aim of this study was to analyze the clinical and electrophysiological features in a cohort of patients with diabetic foot.

Research design and methods: The recordings of 318 consecutive diabetic patients (127 women and 191 men) with an ongoing or healed foot ulcer who had been referred for electrophysiological consultation were evaluated retrospectively.

Results: 60.1% of our cohort were male. Loss of deep sensation and deep tendon reflex abnormalities were the most common neurological findings. Negative sensory symptoms (63.7% vs 40.8%, p<0.01) and neuropathic pain (38.5% vs 18.3%, p<0.01) were more frequent in females, whereas atrophy was more frequent in male patients (22.8% vs 46%, p<0.01). Motor nerve conduction abnormalities and ulnar nerve involvement was more frequent and severe in males. Abnormal electrophysiological findings were mild in 70 patients (female 42, 60%). In this group, hemiplegia, peripheral arterial disease, multiple bone fractures, end stage renal failure, recent pulmonary tuberculosis and dementia accompanied mild polyneuropathy. Thirty patients had shown prominent decrease in nerve conduction velocity which indicated severe demyelination. Among these 30 patients, 6 male subjects had clinical features similar to that of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that male gender, motor neuropathy and mononeuropathies, especially ulnar neuropathy is associated with the development of DF among our patients with DF. Patients with diabetes mellitus have a predisposition to develop chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and this may also facilitate formation of diabetic foot. History of hemiplegia, dementia and trauma are permissive risk factors for diabetic foot in the presence of mild polyneuropathy.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / complications*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / epidemiology*
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Female
  • Foot Ulcer / epidemiology*
  • Foot Ulcer / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction / radiation effects
  • Sex Factors