A multicenter study on the prevalence of diabetic neuropathy in Italy

Domenico Fedele, Giancarlo Comi, Carlo Coscelli, Domenico Cucinotta, Eva L. Feldman, Giovanni Ghirlanda, Douglas A. Greene, Paolo Negrin, Fausto Santeusanio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE - The prevalence of neuropathy, a common complication of diabetes, was determined in diabetic patients recruited from 109 outpatient diabetes clinics in Italy. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - Neuropathy was diagnosed using the Diabetic Neuropathy Index (DNI), a standardized examination developed for use in the outpatient setting. A total of 8,757 diabetic patients were studied, 51.2% men and 48.8% women, with average and median ages of 56 and 58 years, respectively. RESULTS - Of the 8,757 patients, 32.3% had neuropathy, defined as a positive score of >2 points on the DNI. A total of 2,033 (49.6% men and 50.4% women) were administered the Diabetic Neuropathy Score (DNS), the second component of the screening program, by a neurologist. This component consists of a quantitative neurological examination and nerve conduction studies that together provide a summated score. A total of 335 patients (16.5%) were not neuropathic, and 395 (19.4%) had borderline, 453 (22.3%) mild, 592 (29.1%) moderate, and 258 (12.7%) severe neuropathy. The concordance between a positive score on the DNI and a DNS indicating neuropathy was 83.5%. The severity of neuropathy increased with both age and disease duration. Of patients with neuropathy, 64.1% had an average age between 58 and 59 years with a disease duration between 12.4 ± 8.4 years (mild neuropathy) and 15.6 ± 9.7 years (severe neuropathy). CONCLUSIONS - Neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes and, in this study, was present in 32.3% of all patients. An increased awareness of the high prevalence of neuropathy can lead to early therapeutic intervention and possible prevention of later neuropathic complications, such as infection and foot ulcers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-843
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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