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Acta Diabetol. 2009 Dec;46(4):285-90. doi: 10.1007/s00592-008-0084-1. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

How often do we ask about erectile dysfunction in the diabetes review clinic? Development of a neuropathy screening tool.

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Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, Eastbourne DGH, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 2UD, UK.


Diabetic neuropathy is a significant complication of chronic diabetes. We wished to discover whether we were successfully identifying patients who had developed neuropathic problems. Specifically, Diabetologists are traditionally poor at asking about erectile dysfunction (ED) and patients themselves are not always forthcoming as it an embarrassing medical problem. We targeted all patients attending diabetes review clinics over a 4-month period in two hospitals and asked them to complete an anonymous, self-reported questionnaire after their consultation with the diabetologist or diabetes specialist nurse. Whilst most aspects of diabetic neuropathy are routinely screened for in the diabetes clinic we found that the neuropathic symptoms of both ED and gastroparesis were not commonly enquired about, and that erectile failure was found to be more prevalent than previously. Diabetologists need to be more thorough in their assessment of diabetic neuropathy. This is especially of import with regards to ED because we often shy away from enquiring into such a personal area and male patients rarely highlight the issue due to embarrassment. Our post consultation questionnaire has now been modified to form a useful preconsultation neuropathy screening tool and this is undergoing validation.

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