BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Although guidelines for the management of children with type 1 diabetes include recommendations to screen for diabetic peripheral neuropathies (DPN), the research into the diagnostic utility of screening methods has not been systematically reviewed. The goal of this study was to summarize the findings with regard to the diagnostic accuracy of the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament and the Rydel-Seiffer tuning fork in detecting DPN in children and adolescents compared with the gold standard nerve conduction studies.

METHODS:

Based on a PubMed search (conducted on April 26, 2013) and secondary searching, we identified 72 articles for review. We included studies that: (1) assessed DPN with the gold standard nerve conduction studies; (2) used noninvasive screening for DPN (monofilament, tuning fork, or biothesiometer); and (3) were performed in the relevant population (children with diabetes). Five articles met these criteria. Study quality was assessed by using the revised Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies criteria. Heterogeneous methods precluded a formal meta-analysis of effects.

RESULTS:

Diagnostic accuracies were heterogeneous for the different screening methods. Sensitivities ranged from 1% to 19% for the tuning fork (3 studies); from 61% to 80% for the biothesiometer (2 studies); and from 19% to 73% for the monofilament (2 studies).

CONCLUSIONS:

Data show extremely low diagnostic utility for standard screening methods (tuning fork and 10-g monofilament) but acceptable utilities for biothesiometry and finer (1 g) monofilaments. Data on the diagnostic utility should be used to inform national and international guidelines on diabetes management.

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