Threshold for detection of diabetic peripheral sensory neuropathy using a range of research grade monofilaments in persons with Type 2 diabetes mellitus

J Foot Ankle Res. 2008 Sep 11;1(1):9. doi: 10.1186/1757-1146-1-9.


Aims: To identify the threshold of reduced sensory perception in Type 2 diabetes mellitus (Type 2 DM) using a range of research grade monofilaments.

Methods: Three groups of participants were recruited into a between subject, cross-sectional study. Group 1(NEW), persons with Type 2 DM diagnosed for less than 2 years (n = 80); Group 2 (EST) persons with Type 2 DM diagnosed for more than 2 years (n = 91), and Group 3, a Comparison group without Type 2 DM (n = 73), resulted in a total study population, n = 244. Research grade monofilaments (2, 4, 6, 8 and 10-gram) were employed using standardised protocol, at 6 sites on the plantar aspect of both feet. The demographic and anthropometric measures of gender, age, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and duration of Type 2 DM since diagnosis (if applicable) of the participants were analysed.

Results: Perception of the research grade monofilaments differed significantly between the 3 groups (p < 0.05). The 6-gram monofilament was found to be the threshold of normal perception, based on 90% of the Comparison group perceiving the 6-gram monofilament at all sites in contrast to 64% of NEW and 48% of EST groups.

Conclusion: The 6-gram monofilament was identified as the threshold of normal sensory perception. Inability to perceive the 6-gram monofilament indicates, when using the method described in this study, that diminution of sensory perception is evident. Employing a range of monofilaments, 6, 8 and 10-grams in Type 2 DM foot screening would allow the clinical detection of deteriorating sensory perception and enable implementation of foot protection strategies at an earlier stage than is currently practised.