Aim: An objective assessment of small nerve fibers is key to the early detection of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). This study investigates the diagnostic accuracy of a novel perception threshold tracking technique in detecting small nerve fiber damage. Methods: Participants with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) without DPN (n = 20), with DPN (n = 20), with painful DPN (n = 20) and 20 healthy controls (HCs) underwent perception threshold tracking on the foot and corneal confocal microscopy. Diagnostic accuracy of perception threshold tracking compared to corneal confocal microscopy was analyzed using logistic regression. Results: The rheobase, corneal nerve fiber density (CNFD), corneal nerve branch density (CNBD), and corneal nerve fiber length (CNFL) (all P <.001) differed between groups. The diagnostic accuracy of perception threshold tracking (rheobase) was excellent for identifying small nerve fiber damage, especially for CNFL with a sensitivity of 94%, specificity 94%, positive predictive value 97%, and negative predictive value 89%. There was a significant correlation between rheobase with CNFD, CNBD, CNFL, and Michigan Neuropathy Screening Instrument (all P <.001). Conclusion: Perception threshold tracking had a very high diagnostic agreement with corneal confocal microscopy for detecting small nerve fiber loss and may have clinical utility for assessing small nerve fiber damage and hence early DPN.

TidsskriftJournal of Diabetes Science and Technology
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 24 feb. 2023


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