Diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy using simple somatic and a new autonomic (neuropad) tests in the clinical practice

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2010 Apr;118(4):226-33. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1247565. Epub 2010 Mar 3.


Aim: The global spread of diabetes (DM) and the importance of early therapeutic intervention determine the need of simple, inexpensive and sensitive methods for diagnosis of diabetic complications in the general practice. The aim of this study was to assess a new instrument - the plaster Neuropad in diagnosing the sudomotor diabetic dysfunction and to investigate the correlates of Neuropad data with diabetic complications.

Patients and methods: In this cross-sectional study participated 264 inpatients (M/F=126/138) with DM type 1/2 (61/203), mean age 55.4+/-12.0 and DM duration of 9.3+/-7.1 years. According to hospital records were registered: anthropometric data; fasting plasma glucose and HbA1c; presence of micro-(retino-, nephro-, neuropathy), and macrovascular (arterial hypertension, coronary artery disease and/or brain vascular disease) complications, and neuropathic symptoms were evaluated. For investigation of somatic DN a modified Neuropathy Disability Score (NDS) and for sudomotor autonomic DN - Neuropad were used.

Results: Neuropad showed the highest between-feet correlation of 0.91 compared to all other individual tests and the NDS. Neuropad was able to separate patients in groups with different general risk profile, including age, duration of DM, presence of coronary and/or brain vascular disease, nephropathy, and retinopathy. Moreover, Neuropad differentiated patient groups by their stage of DN, evaluated by symptoms, diagnosis, the individual somatic tests and with the highest significance - by NDS. Most sensitive for detecting DN was NDS > or = 3, followed by Achilles reflexes, vibration perception (128 Hz tuning fork) and Neuropad. A borderline or abnormal result of Neuropad showed sensitivity=76.3/79.3, specificity=56.1/42.9, positive=86.3/62.8 and negative=39.5/63.0 predictive values, and diagnostic accuracy 72.2/62.9%, compared to the indices for presence of somatic DN (NDS > or = 3)/foot at risk (NDS > or = 6) respectively.

Conclusions: Screening for DN must cover somatic and autonomic disturbances. Neuropad is a new sensitive and appropriate for everyday clinical use test for detecting sudomotor DN and identification of patients at higher risk for chronic diabetes complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Patient Selection
  • Reflex / physiology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Touch Perception / physiology
  • Vibration