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Portable Device Detects Diabetic Neuropathy

A portable, automated device accurately detects electrophysiological abnormalities in the sural nerve, indicating diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy, Lead author Dr. Bruce A. Perkins and his associates at the University of Toronto evaluated the performance of the NC-stat System (NeuroMetrix) by comparing its results with conventional nerve conduction studies.

Each test using the device, Dr. Perkins pointed out, employs a "flexible panel that has preconfigured, nerve-specific electrodes through it, so a technician can just wrap it around the ankle and the electrodes are placed in the right position," without the necessity of specialist care. This stage of the procedure takes about 5 to 6 minutes per patient.

Other components of the apparatus are a monitor that displays and transmits the data from the biosensors through a docking station to a remote, on-call information system. A report is automatically generated, complete with reference data, and is transmitted back to the physician within about 40 minutes.

In their study, Dr. Perkins and associates assessed the amplitude potentials in the sural nerve of 72 subjects who had already completed conventional nerve conduction studies by a specialized electrodiagnostic laboratory. Non-technologist research staff repeated the tests using the point-of-care device.

The correlation between the point-of-care device and the conventional measurements was high (p < 0.001), the investigators report. The sensitivity of the device for detecting polyneuropathy was 92%, and specificity was 82%.

Detection of impaired nerve conduction in primary care, the researchers conclude, should reduce the number of referrals to specialized electromyography laboratories. www.Neurometrix.com
Diabetes Care 2006;29:2023-2027.