European Radiology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 1234–1241 | Cite as

MR T2 value of the tibial nerve can be used as a potential non-invasive and quantitative biomarker for the diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy

  • Dongye Wang
  • Chuan Wang
  • Xiaohui Duan
  • Zehong Yang
  • Zhiqiang Bai
  • Huijun Hu
  • Li YanEmail author
  • Jun ShenEmail author



To determine the role of quantitative tibial nerve T2 value in the diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).


MR imaging and T2 mapping of the tibial nerve were performed in 22 diabetic patients with DPN, 20 diabetic patients without DPN and 20 healthy controls. Nerve T2 values were measured, and compared using the Mann-Whitney U test. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to determine the diagnostic ability of T2 value to identify DPN.


Nerve T2 value was 55.06 ± 4.05 ms, 48.91 ± 3.06 ms and 45.61 ± 1.86 ms in patients with DPN, patients without DPN and controls, respectively. Patients with DPN had significantly higher nerve T2 values than patients without DPN (P < 0.001). Nerve T2 values in patients without DPN were higher than in controls (P < 0.001). ROC analysis showed that T2 values had a diagnostic sensitivity of 81.8 %, specificity of 89.2 % and area under the curve of 0.922 for identifying patients with DPN from patients without DPN plus controls when the cutoff point was 51.34 ms.


T2 value of the tibial nerve can be used as an alternative, non-invasive quantitative parameter to assess DPN in diabetic patients.

Key points

Tibial nerves in patients with DPN showed T2 hyperintensity and enlargement.

Tibial nerves in patients with DPN had an increased T2 value.

T2 value might be used as a quantitative biomarker for DPN.


Peripheral nervous system diseases Diabetes mellitus Diabetic neuropathies Magnetic resonance imaging Tibial nerve 



This study received funding from the Project Supported by Guangdong Province Universities and Colleges Pearl River Scholar Funded Scheme (2017), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos: 81371607, 81571739), National Basic Research Program (Grant No: 2015CB755500), Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province of China (Grant No: 2014A030312018), Elite Young Scholars Program of Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital (J201403) and the Medical Scientific Research Foundation of Guangdong Province of China (Grant No: A2015276).

Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Jun Shen.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.

Statistics and biometry

No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects (healthy volunteers and patients) in this study.

Ethical approval

Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.


• prospective

• case-control study

• performed at one institution


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiology, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial HospitalSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Endocrinology, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial HospitalSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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