Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic, non communicable, multisystem
disease that has reached epidemic proportions. Chronic exposure to hyperglycaemia affects the
microvasculature, eventually leading to diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy with high
impact on the quality of life and overall life expectancy. Sexual dysfunction is an often-overlooked microvascular
complication of T2DM, with a complex pathogenesis originating from endothelial dysfunction.
Objective: The purpose of this review is to present current definitions, epidemiological data and risk
factors for diabetic retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy and sexual dysfunction. We also describe the
clinical and laboratory evaluation that is mandatory for the diagnosis of these conditions.
Methods: A comprehensive review of the literature was performed to identify data from clinical studies
for the prevalence, risk factors and diagnostic methods of microvascular complications of T2DM.
Results: Diabetic nephropathy and retinopathy affect approximately 25% of patients with T2DM; diabetic
neuropathy is encountered in almost 50% of the diabetic population, while the prevalence of erectile dysfunction
ranges from 35-90% in diabetic men. The duration of T2DM along with glycemic, blood pressure
and lipid control are common risk factors for the development of these complications. Criteria for the diagnosis
of these conditions are well established, but exclusion of other causes is mandatory.
Conclusion: Early detection of microvascular complications associated with T2DM is important, as
early intervention leads to better outcomes. However, this requires awareness of their definition,
prevalence and diagnostic modalities.