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Foot Ankle Surg. 2017 Dec;23(4):281-284. doi: 10.1016/j.fas.2016.08.004. Epub 2016 Aug 21.

Mobile phone generated vibrations used to detect diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

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Speciality Registrar 6 Trauma and Orthopaedics, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Chesterfield Royal Foundation Hospital Trust, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon, Special Interest in Foot and Ankle surgery, Chesterfield Royal Foundation Hospital Trust, United Kingdom. Electronic address:



In the current United Kingdom population the incidence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is increasing. The presence of diabetic neuropathy affects decision making and treatment options. This study seeks to evaluate if the vibrations generated from a mobile phone can be used to screen patients for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.


This study comprised of 61 patients; a control group of 21 patients; a lower limb injury group of 19 patients; a diabetic peripheral neuropathy group of 21 patients. The control and injury group were recruited randomly from fracture clinics. The diabetic peripheral neuropathy group were randomly recruited from the diabetic foot clinic. The 61 patients were examined using a 10g Semmes-Weinstein monofilament, a 128Hz tuning fork and a vibrating mobile phone. The points tested were, index finger, patella, lateral malleoli, medial malleoli, heel, first and fifth metatarsal heads.


The most accurate location of all the clinical tests was the head of the 1st metatarsal at 0.86. The overall accuracy of the tuning fork was 0.77, the ten gram monofilament 0.79 and the mobile phone accuracy was 0.88. The control group felt 420 of 441 tests (95%). The injury group felt 349 of 399 tests (87%). The neuropathic group felt 216 of 441 tests (48%). There is a significant difference in the number of tests felt between the control and both the injury and neuropathic groups. p<0.0001 using N-1 Two Proportion Test.


A mobile phone is an accurate screening tool for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The most accurate location to test for diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the head of the 1st metatarsal. Screening for diabetic peripheral neuropathy in the index finger and patella were inaccurate. An injury to the lower limb affects the patient's vibration sensation, we would therefore recommend screening the contralateral limb to the injury.


This study represents level II evidence of a new diagnostic investigation.


Biothesiometer; Diabetic foot; Monofilament; Nerve damage; Tuning fork; Vibration sensation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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