Feasibility and effectiveness of electrochemical dermal conductance measurement for the screening of diabetic neuropathy in primary care. DECODING Study (Dermal Electrochemical Conductance in Diabetic Neuropathy). Rationale and design

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Diabetes mellitus is the leading cause of polyneuropathy in the Western world. Diabetic neuropathy is a frequent complication of diabetes and may have great clinical transcendence due to pain and possible ulceration of the lower extremities. It is also a relevant cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with diabetes. Although the cause of polyneuropathy in patients with diabetes is only partially known, it has been associated with chronic hyperglycemia suggesting the possible etiopathogenic implication of advanced glycosylation end products. The strategy of choice in the medical management of diabetic neuropathy is early detection since glycaemic control and the use of certain drugs may prevent or slow the development of this disease. Diabetic neuropathy most often presents with a dysfunction of unmyelinated C-fibers, manifested as an alteration of the sweat reflex of the eccrine glands. This dysfunction can now be demonstrated using a newly developed technology which measures dermal electrochemical conductivity. This noninvasive test is easy and cost-effective. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of dermal electrochemical conductance measurement (quantitative expression of the sudomotor reflex) as a screening test for the diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy in patients in primary care.

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