A new Swedish study presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Munich offers a potential breakthrough in the early detection of diabetic foot ulcers.
Using a measurement method called Multi-Frequency Vibrometry, the study shows a strong correlation between decreased sensory perception in patients’ feet and risk of foot ulcers. It is estimated that 10% of people with diabetes will have a diabetic ulcer at some point in their lives. Furthermore, such ulcers precede more than 80% of amputations in people with diabetes. The cost to the NHS in the UK alone is estimated at £650 million.
Led by Dr. Eero Lindholm, Consultant physician at Skånes University, the study was selected by EASD for an oral presentation. Dr. Lindholm and his group have studied patients with Type I Diabetes patients with or without diabetic foot ulcers and compared them with healthy volunteers. Sensory perception was tested using a specially developed VibroSense Meter from Swedish medical device company Vibrosense. These CE-marked instruments have been widely used for the last 10 years in the mining and other industries for detecting neuropathy in hands. As a novel finding the data demonstrate that there is a strong correlation between sensory loss at low frequent vibration and foot ulcers in diabetic patients. Low frequency vibration has not been tested in diabetic foot patients before and the results can indicate impairment of sensory cells, Merkel cells and Meissner’s corpuscles as a consequence of diabetes.
“The results are very promising and could lead to improved early detection of diabetic foot ulcers. We have found that there is a strong correlation between foot ulcers and impaired tactile sensation at low vibration frequencies. The study will continue for a further three years enabling us to include more patients and broaden the body of evidence,” says Eero Lindholm, Consultant physician at Skånes University Hospital, Sweden.