Abnormal digital pressure measurements in diabetic neuropathic foot ulceration

Diabet Med. 1993 Dec;10(10):909-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.1993.tb00006.x.


The diabetic neuropathic ulcer is typically slow to heal and recurrent. Macrovascular insufficiency is usually excluded as foot pulses are present and ankle:brachial pressure ratios are not decreased. These assessments cannot however exclude more distal vascular disease. Digital pressure measurements enable a reliable assessment of the distal peripheral vascular status to be made. The aim of this study was therefore to use toe pressures to assess the contribution of distal ischaemia in the pathogenesis of the neuropathic ulcer. Sixteen diabetic patients with recurrent neuropathic foot ulceration had their toe pressures compared to 10 neuropathic patients without a history of foot ulceration, 10 diabetic control subjects, and 11 normal subjects. Four non-diabetic patients with neuropathy and foot ulceration were also assessed. All subjects had ankle:brachial pressure indices > or = 1. Toe pressure was assessed using laser Doppler flowmetry to record the return of skin blood flow. The toe:brachial pressure index (TBI) was then calculated. The diabetic patients with a history of recurrent neuropathic ulceration, had the lowest mean TBI, 0.63 +/- 0.14 (SD), compared to the non-ulcerated diabetic neuropathy patients, the diabetic control subjects, and the normal subjects. 0.84 +/- 0.11, 0.82 +/- 0.1, and 0.81 +/- 0.07, p < 0.01, respectively. Three of the four non-diabetic patients with neuropathic foot ulceration also had an abnormally low TBI. Reduced toe pressure measurements are thus found to be associated with neuropathic foot ulceration. The contribution of distal ischaemia in the pathogenesis of the diabetic neuropathic foot ulcer needs to be evaluated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pressure
  • Recurrence
  • Sensory Thresholds*
  • Toes*
  • Touch
  • Valsalva Maneuver
  • Vibration