The Top Ten Innovations In Podiatry

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Brian McCurdy, Senior Editor

   Dr. Elmarsafi points out that there are only two methods to screen/test for peripheral neuropathy: the simple conventional tuning fork, and the more expensive and large biothesiometer, which is based on increasing increments of vibration. He notes the battery operated Electronic Tuning Fork combines the best of both tests and provides a digital readout that is easy to interpret.

   The Electronic Tuning Fork provides the clinician with a numerical read in real time, which one can compare to a chart on the device that gives ranges correlating with the degree of neuropathy, according to Dr. Elmarsafi, a first-year resident in the Department of Podiatric Surgery at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. For patients who are at high risk for neuropathy but have some level of vibratory sensation, he says one can use the numbers to track changes over time.

   Dr. Elmarsafi notes no contraindications to using the Electronic Tuning Fork that are different from using a tuning fork or biothesiometer. He does cite the noise that the fork makes, saying this might be an auditory clue to the patient who has no sensation. However, Dr. Elmarsafi says clinicians can avoid this by placing the node on the patient while keeping the shaft perpendicular to the skin.

   The Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association recently published a proof of concept study on the Electronic Tuning Fork.1 The study focused on 55 patients and found that the sensitivity and specificity of neuropathy detection for the Electronic Tuning Fork were 0.953 and 0.761 respectively

   “I think that the Electronic Tuning Fork is accurate, easy to use and a time saver,” says Dr. Elmarsafi. “I have put the (device) to the grind and have found it to be of clinical utility, and encourage others to further evaluate the Electronic Tuning Fork.”

1. O’Brien T, Karem J. An initial evaluation of a proof of concept 12-Hz electronic tuning fork in the detection of peripheral neuropathy. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2014; 104(2):134-40.

   Editor’s note: Dr. Suzuki discloses that he has received an honorarium from TEI Biosciences in the past 12 months.

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