Preliminary evaluation of the sural nerve using 22-MHz ultrasound: a new approach for evaluation of diabetic cutaneous neuropathy

PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e32730. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032730. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Background: The application of 22-MHz high-frequency ultrasound allows for visualization of the inner part of the sural nerve. The aim of this study was to evaluate the morphological changes of sural nerves in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus using ultrasound.

Materials and methods: The thickness/width (T/W) ratio, the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the sural nerves and the maximum thickness (MT) of the nerve fascicles were measured in 100 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and 50 healthy volunteers using 22-MHz ultrasound. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were plotted to determine the optimal cut-off values as well as the sensitivities and specificities. All parameters were significantly different between the subject and control groups. The ROC curves demonstrated that the MT was the most predictive of diabetic cutaneous neuropathy, with an optimal cut-off value of 0.365 mm that yielded a sensitivity of 90.3% and a specificity of 87.7%.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that 22-MHz ultrasound may be a valuable tool for evaluating diabetic cutaneous nerve neuropathy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • ROC Curve
  • Sural Nerve / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography