Strong association between vibration perception thresholds at low frequencies (4 and 8 Hz), neuropathic symptoms and diabetic foot ulcers

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Aims To investigate whether multi-frequency measurement of vibration perception thresholds (VPTs) can identify individuals with a high risk of developing diabetic foot ulcer or neuropathic symptoms. Methods VPTs were measured at six different frequencies (4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 125 Hz) on metatarsal heads 1 and 5 on the sole of the foot using a standard VibroSense Meter device in 535 type 1 diabetic (T1DM) patients and 717 non-diabetic control subjects. VPTs in control subjects were used to establish normal values for five different age groups for male and female subjects respectively. Normal values were defined as a VPT below the mean plus 1.66 x standard deviation for each group. Various definitions of abnormal VPTs were tested using either all frequencies, only lowest VPT frequencies (4 and 8 Hz) or only highest VPT frequencies (64 and 125 Hz). Results The VPTs were higher in T1DM patients than in non-diabetic control subjects matched for age and gender. The low frequencies, 4 and 8 Hz, particularly were associated with the risk of diabetic foot ulcer (OR 40.7 [5.4-308.4], p = 0.0003) and with difficulties in balance and or gait (OR 1.89 [1.04-3.46], p = 0.04) difficulties and weakness (OR 2.77 [1.25-6.16], p = 0.01). The VPTs at the 125 Hz frequency were higher in short duration (? 10 yrs.) T1DM patients compared to age- and gender-matched control subjects. Conclusions Vibration perception thresholds at low frequencies seem to be a better indicator of the risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers, gait or balance problems or weakness of the foot. The 125 Hz frequency, however, seemed to be impaired earlier and it was the only pathological VPT frequency in patients with short duration of diabetes.This study suggests that at least four different frequencies (4, 8, 64 and 125 Hz) should be included in any examination in order to obtain a complete evaluation of the risk factors for diabetic neuropathy and diabetic foot ulcers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0212921
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 28

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


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