Mitra Tavakoli , PHD 1 , Cristian Quattrini , MD, PHD 1 , Caroline Abbott , PHD 1 , Panagiotis Kallinikos , PHD 1 , Andrew Marshall , MD 2 , Joanne Finnigan , BSC 2 , Philip Morgan , PHD 3 , Nathan Efron , PHD 4 , Andrew J.M. Boulton , MD 1 , Rayaz A. Malik , MD, PHD 1
30 April 2010
The accurate quantification of human diabetic neuropathy is important to define at-risk patients, anticipate deterioration, and assess new therapies.
A total of 101 diabetic patients and 17 age-matched control subjects underwent neurological evaluation, neurophysiology tests, quantitative sensory testing, and evaluation of corneal sensation and corneal nerve morphology using corneal confocal microscopy (CCM).
Corneal sensation decreased significantly ( P = 0.0001) with increasing neuropathic severity and correlated with the neuropathy disability score (NDS) ( r = 0.441, P < 0.0001). Corneal nerve fiber density (NFD) ( P < 0.0001), nerve fiber length (NFL), ( P < 0.0001), and nerve branch density (NBD) ( P < 0.0001) decreased significantly with increasing neuropathic severity and correlated with NDS (NFD r = −0.475, P < 0.0001; NBD r = −0.511, P < 0.0001; and NFL r = −0.581, P < 0.0001). NBD and NFL demonstrated a significant and progressive reduction with worsening heat pain thresholds ( P = 0.01). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis for the diagnosis of neuropathy (NDS >3) defined an NFD of <27.8/mm 2 with a sensitivity of 0.82 (95% CI 0.68–0.92) and specificity of 0.52 (0.40–0.64) and for detecting patients at risk of foot ulceration (NDS >6) defined a NFD cutoff of <20.8/mm 2 with a sensitivity of 0.71 (0.42–0.92) and specificity of 0.64 (0.54–0.74).