This project evaluated the utility of quantitative sensory techniques in predicting the development of neuropathy for subjects participating in a prospective study.
Distal symmetric polyneuropathy was evaluated in 77 insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus individuals via quantitative sensory testing, nerve conduction studies, and clinical examination.
Although the specificity and positive predictive value were low for the quantitative sensory techniques as predictors of neuropathy diagnosed on clinical exam ∼2 yr later, the sensitivity for vibratory thresholds was high (100%). Variability over the 2-yr interval was shown on follow-up testing for each of the objective assessment modalities and it was not explained by differences for potential risk factors measured at baseline.
Despite a cross-sectional relationship between the assessment modalities and clinically overt neuropathy at baseline, these follow-up data suggest that the potential for the objective modalities as predictors of clinically diagnosed neuropathy may be limited.