Screening for the high-risk foot of ulceration: tests of somatic and autonomic nerve function

Curr Diab Rep. 2011 Aug;11(4):294-301. doi: 10.1007/s11892-011-0192-0.


Diabetic foot ulcers affect almost 5% of the patients with diabetes and carry a huge physical, emotional, and financial burden. Almost 80% of amputations in patients with diabetes are preceded by a foot ulcer. The need for simple screening methods for prevention of foot ulcers and amputations is indisputable. Simple tests such as monofilament, tuning fork, vibration perception threshold determination, ankle reflexes, and pinprick sensation alone or in combination have been studied prospectively and can be used for identification of patients at risk. Newer tests examining sudomotor dysfunction and skin dryness have been introduced in recent years. In cross-sectional studies sudomotor dysfunction assessed by either sympathetic skin response or NEUROPAD™ (Miro Verbandstoffe GmbH, Wiehl-Drabenderhöhe, Germany) testing has been consistently associated with foot ulceration. In addition, NEUROPAD™ testing is simple, reproducible, and widely available and has a high sensitivity for the diagnosis of clinical or subclinical diabetic polyneuropathy. Prospective studies are required to establish whether sudomotor dysfunction can predict foot ulcers and if simple methods assessing sudomotor dysfunction (eg, NEUROPAD™ testing) can be included in the screening tests for the prevention of this complication.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Pathways / pathology
  • Autonomic Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Foot Ulcer / physiopathology*
  • Humans