Warning Signs: Occult Diabetes and Dysglycemia in the Hand Surgery Patient Population.

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Hand (N Y)


BACKGROUND: Diabetes mellitus often exists for many years prior to diagnosis, and very little is known about the role of the prediagnosis stage of metabolic impairment in contributing to hand and upper-extremity pathology. The goal of this study is to determine the prevalence of undiagnosed glucose dysregulation in patients presenting with the 2 most commonly treated conditions of the hand and wrist.

METHODS: A retrospective study was performed of hand surgery patients with no established diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes referred for a 2-hour glucose tolerance test according to American Diabetes Association criteria. Patients were divided into 3 groups: peripheral neuropathies, trigger finger, and controls with various upper-extremity diagnoses. Rates of undiagnosed prediabetes and diabetes were compared between groups, including subgroup analysis of patients based on unilateral or bilateral presentation. Binary logistic regression analysis was also used to calculate odds ratios for multiple variables.

RESULTS: Patients with neuropathy had a significantly higher incidence of undiagnosed dysglycemia compared with the control group. Of those patients, 51.3% were prediabetic and 12.8% were diabetic. The control group had significantly lower rates. Within the bilateral neuropathy patients, 59.6% had prediabetes and 15.4% had diabetes, versus 34.6% with prediabetes and 7.7% with diabetes in the unilateral group.

CONCLUSIONS: Hand surgeons encounter a patient population with high rates of undiagnosed prediabetes and diabetes, with some presentations as much as 6 times higher than the general population. Certain patient presentations should prompt appropriate diagnostic testing and referral, especially those presenting with bilateral compression neuropathy and elevated body mass index.


Online ahead of print.

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