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J Vasc Surg. 2011 Jan;53(1):220-226.e1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2010.06.100. Epub 2010 Aug 8.

The Semmes Weinstein monofilament examination is a significant predictor of the risk of foot ulceration and amputation in patients with diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Section of Vascular Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a major complication of diabetes mellitus (DM) and is the leading cause of foot ulceration and lower extremity amputations (LEAs). The purpose of this systematic review is to evaluate current evidence regarding the prognostic value of the Semmes Weinstein monofilament examination (SWME) in predicting foot ulceration and LEA in patients with DM.


The MEDLINE/PubMed database was searched through November 2009 for articles pertaining to diabetic foot and SWME with no language or publication date restrictions. Prognostic studies with original data assessing the predictive value of SWME for foot ulceration or LEA in patients with DM were included in the selection. Data were systematically extracted and analyzed by two independent investigators. Absolute risks and relative risks were determined for each study.


Of the 863 studies identified, nine articles were relevant, involving 11,007 patients with DM. Six studies were identified that assessed the prognostic value of SWME regarding diabetic foot ulceration. The relative risk for patients with a positive SWME result versus those with a negative result ranged from 2.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0 to 3.2) to 7.9 (95% CI, 4.4 to 14.3) in the identified studies with follow up between 1 and 4 years. Three of the studies assessed the risk of LEA with a positive SWME result. The relative risk for LEA ranged from 1.7 (95% CI, 1.1 to 2.6) to 15.1 (95% CI, 4.3 to 52.6) with follow-up between 1.5 and 3.3 years.


All nine studies found SWME to be a significant and independent predictor of future foot ulceration or likely of future LEA as well in patients with DM. Therefore, SWME is an important evidence-based tool for predicting the prognosis of patients with diabetic foot, thus enabling improved patient selection for early intervention and management. More research should be conducted to elucidate the relationship between SWME and LEA.

Copyright © 2011 Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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