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Aust N Z J Med. 2000 Oct;30(5):573-7.

The diagonal ear lobe crease (Frank's sign) is not associated with coronary artery disease or retinopathy in type 2 diabetes: the Fremantle Diabetes Study.

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University of Western Australia, Department of Medicine, Fremantle Hospital.



The diagonal ear lobe crease (ELC) has been suggested as a simple marker of vascular disease in the general population but there are few data from diabetic patients despite their increased risk of angiopathy.


To determine whether the ELC is a clinically useful sign of coronary artery disease (CAD) or retinopathy in type 2 diabetes.


One thousand and twenty-two patients from the multi-ethnic urban catchment area of Fremantle Hospital in Western Australia were studied. This sample represents 79% of the type 2 diabetic subjects recruited to the ongoing Fremantle Diabetes Study and 49% of all 2072 patients with type 2 diabetes identified through active case detection in a postcode-defined region of 120,097 people. In addition to other comprehensive data relating to diabetes and its management, the presence of an ELC and evidence of both CAD and retinopathy were ascertained for each patient.


The prevalence of ELC was 55%. Patients with an ELC were more likely to have CAD than those without an ELC (p=0.019), but the proportions with retinopathy were not significantly different (p=0.085). The sensitivity and specificity of ELC for detecting CAD were 60% and 48%, and for retinopathy 61% and 47% respectively. The patients with an ELC were significantly older, more likely to be male and had a higher systolic blood pressure than those without (p<0.02). After adjusting for known vascular risk factors, socioeconomic variables and ethnicity in a logistic regression model, an ELC was neither a significant independent predictor of CAD (p=0.45) nor of retinopathy (p=0.14).


The ELC is of little value as a sign of the presence of diabetic vascular complications.

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