March 30, 2012

What Are Best Tests for Neuropathy?

Two articles both cite the 1996-2007 Health and Retirement Study to identify individuals with a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy. They focused on 15 relevant tests and examined the number and patterns of tests six months before and after the initial diagnosis.

What the two articles concentrate on is holding up the expensive MRIs that many doctors order which is less than definitive for diagnosis. Then they make a leap that does upset me. They assume that most everyone with neuropathy has diabetes and declare that the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) be performed instead. The OGTT is cheaper and may be a solution, but it is far from the most reliable as well when done by itself.

What are they going to do next when the patient does not have diabetes? I have a hard time understanding researchers that assume neuropathy means you have diabetes. There are other causes of neuropathy and the researchers focused on 15 relevant tests. They may mention them in the full study report, but the press release just focuses on MRIs and OGTT.

I must have been fortunate as four tests were used to determine that I had neuropathy and MRI and OGTT were not among them. I was diagnosed several years prior to the diagnosis of diabetes. The neurologist also did a thorough examination of my feet, hands, and lower legs. Then he did the tests before stating that I had peripheral neuropathy.

We do need to use tests for neuropathy that are definitive and not just the expensive tests. Therefore, the researchers are pointing out a real problem we have in our medical system.

No comments: