Remote Temperature Monitoring in Patients With Visual Impairment Due to Diabetes Mellitus: A Proposed Improvement to Current Standard of Care for Prevention of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2020 Jan;14(1):37-45. doi: 10.1177/1932296819848769. Epub 2019 May 23.


Background: Two debilitating sequelae of diabetes are foot ulcerations and vision impairing conditions including retinopathy, open-angle glaucoma, and cataracts. Current standard of care recommends daily visual screening of feet. Despite willingness, many patients are impeded by visual impairment. We investigate whether once-daily remote temperature monitoring can improve self-screening for patients at risk for diabetic foot complications.

Methods: We followed four male veterans with diabetes mellitus, peripheral neuropathy, impaired visual acuity, and at least one other diabetes-related visual impairment in a high-risk podiatry clinic. Patients received a telemedicine remote temperature monitoring mat and instructed on proper daily use. Each patient developed a "hotspot," defined as a 1.75°C localized temperature difference between matched pedal locations, which resulted in telephone triage outreach.

Results: In three cases, outreach resulted in a sooner appointment where patients were found to have a relevant outcome at the hotspot. Patients in cases 1-3 had University of Texas (UT) 1A ulcerations. The patient in case 4 had inflammation from trauma. All patients had refractive errors plus another vision impairing condition that potentially delayed identification of lesions. Patients in cases 1 and 2 have cataracts, patients in cases 2 and 3 have retinopathy, and patient in case 4 has glaucoma.

Conclusions: As an adjunct to daily preventative diabetic self-care, once-daily remote temperature monitoring technology can augment self-screening to prompt necessary outreach and treatment and potentially prevent costly and debilitating diabetic foot complications. This case series serves as a pilot study for real-world application of thermometry, where further large-scale research is needed.

Keywords: diabetic foot ulcer; early detection; remote temperature monitoring; visual impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Foot / prevention & control*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Skin Temperature / physiology*
  • Standard of Care
  • Telemedicine
  • Veterans
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*