Bedside Quantitative Sensory Testing May Reliably Assess Sensory Profiles in Neuropathic Pain

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A bedside quantitative sensory testing using inexpensive handheld devices indicates that this test may reliably be used to assess sensory profiles in patients with neuropathic pain.

A study presented at the 2018 American Pain Society annual meeting, held March 4 to 6 in Anaheim, California, found that a bedside quantitative sensory testing (QST) device may be effective to assess sensory profiles in patients with neuropathic pain.

The investigators suggest that the development of a “standardized, validated, easy-to-administer, bedside sensory testing battery that could be used in a variety of settings to assess patients’ sensory profiles” may be helpful for patients with neuropathic pain.

According to study coordinator Alexandra Buliteanu, of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, “The availability of validated bedside QST that uses inexpensive, easily handled, and portable equipment may facilitate research to a wider variety of patient population and therefore progress research in chronic neuropathic pain.”

Study participants had 2 in-person visits at a 2-week interval. During these visits, they were asked to fill out questionnaires assessing neuropathic pain and underwent 2 sets of sensory testing: a standard, laboratory-based QST and a bedside QST using simple inexpensive handheld equipment.

The bedside QST testing mechanical sensitivity (eg, testing of punctate hyperalgesia) was found to correlate with equivalent assessments using standard QST (eg, mechanical stimuli delivered with a DFNS probe of the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain (r=-.81; P <.01).

There were also high correlations for measures of temporal summation delivered with standard weighted probes and a 6.65 (300 g) Von Frey monofilament (r =.72; P <.05) and thermal hyperalgesia, with tests using a metal rod submerged in ice or hot water correlating with heat and cold pain threshold measured with contact thermode by Medoc (P =.01).

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The high Spearman correlation coefficients and the significant 2-week test-retest coefficients for bedside and standard QST variables indicated good temporal stability over a 2-week period.

“Further study of validated bedside QST protocols may provide meaningful insights about the nature of neuropathic pain and individual variability in pain phenotypes,” concluded the study authors.

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Buliteanu A, Lazaridou A, Schreiber K, et al. Validation of a bedside quantitative sensory testing (QST) protocol in chronic neuropathic pain. Presented at: 2018 American Pain Society Annual meeting; March 4-6, 2018; Anaheim, CA. Abstract 209.