Quantitative sensory testing in measurement of neuropathic pain phenomena and other sensory abnormalities.
ABSTRACT Neuropathic pain disorders are usually characterized by spontaneous ongoing or intermittent symptoms, stimulus-evoked positive sensory phenomena, and negative sensory phenomena. Spontaneous individual subject specific phenomena are identified in the neurologic history and are quantifiable by means of self-reported neuropathic pain symptoms tools such as scales, inventories, and questionnaires. Negative and positive sensory phenomena are assessed by the neurologic bedside examination and quantitative sensory testing (QST), which refers to psychophysical tests of sensory perception during the administration of stimuli with predetermined physical properties and following specific protocols. QST is able to capture and quantify stimulus-evoked negative and positive sensory phenomena, and as such should become standard if not a critical tool in neuropathic pain research and practice. Although the advent of anatomic and functional imaging modalities is revolutionizing our understanding of the mechanisms of neuropathic pain, only by anchoring such test results to individual subjects' own perceptions via QST can they provide meaningful information about neuropathic pain, which is based on perceptual experience. To yield useful results, QST requires a cooperative subject and carefully standardized methods, including standardization of the stimulus parameters as well as the testing environment, instructions, and evaluation methods. This manuscript provides a concise review of fundamental concepts necessary for understanding the role of QST in the process of eliciting information about sensory abnormalities associated with neuropathic pain and the place of that information in analysis of pain mechanisms. Together with the companion manuscript, this review provides definitions that should help further the use of QST as a diagnostic tool as well.
Pain 08/2010; 150(2):215-6. · 5.78 Impact Factor
Article: Test-retest and interobserver reliability of quantitative sensory testing according to the protocol of the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain (DFNS): a multi-centre study.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Quantitative sensory testing (QST) is an instrument to assess positive and negative sensory signs, helping to identify mechanisms underlying pathologic pain conditions. In this study, we evaluated the test-retest reliability (TR-R) and the interobserver reliability (IO-R) of QST in patients with sensory disturbances of different etiologies. In 4 centres, 60 patients (37 male and 23 female, 56.4±1.9years) with lesions or diseases of the somatosensory system were included. QST comprised 13 parameters including detection and pain thresholds for thermal and mechanical stimuli. QST was performed in the clinically most affected test area and a less or unaffected control area in a morning and an afternoon session on 2 consecutive days by examiner pairs (4 QSTs/patient). For both, TR-R and IO-R, there were high correlations (r=0.80-0.93) at the affected test area, except for wind-up ratio (TR-R: r=0.67; IO-R: r=0.56) and paradoxical heat sensations (TR-R: r=0.35; IO-R: r=0.44). Mean IO-R (r=0.83, 31% unexplained variance) was slightly lower than TR-R (r=0.86, 26% unexplained variance, P<.05); the difference in variance amounted to 5%. There were no differences between study centres. In a subgroup with an unaffected control area (n=43), reliabilities were significantly better in the test area (TR-R: r=0.86; IO-R: r=0.83) than in the control area (TR-R: r=0.79; IO-R: r=0.71, each P<.01), suggesting that disease-related systematic variance enhances reliability of QST. We conclude that standardized QST performed by trained examiners is a valuable diagnostic instrument with good test-retest and interobserver reliability within 2days. With standardized training, observer bias is much lower than random variance. Quantitative sensory testing performed by trained examiners is a valuable diagnostic instrument with good interobserver and test-retest reliability for use in patients with sensory disturbances of different etiologies to help identify mechanisms of neuropathic and non-neuropathic pain.Pain 03/2011; 152(3):548-56. · 5.78 Impact Factor
Article: How close are we in utilizing functional neuroimaging in routine clinical diagnosis of neuropathic pain?[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: As with many disorders affecting the central nervous system, treatment of chronic pain is fraught with difficulties related to specific diagnosis and measures of treatment efficacy. Given the recent advances that brain-imaging techniques have contributed to our understanding of how chronic pain affects multiple aspects of brain function (including sensory, emotional, cognitive, and modulatory), opportunities to use these approaches in the clinic are clearly a focus of research laboratories around the world. The routine application of brain imaging as a clinical marker of disease state or therapeutic (drug) efficacy would significantly enhance the clinical process by providing objective measures for clinicians and patients.Current Pain and Headache Reports 03/2011; 15(3):223-9. · 1.66 Impact Factor