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Reliability of intraoral quantitative sensory testing (QST)

Pigg, Mariaa,*; Baad-Hansen, Leneb; Svensson, Peterb,c; Drangsholt, Markd; List, Thomase

doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2009.10.024

The German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain (DFNS) has recommended a protocol with 13 quantitative sensory testing (QST) measures for detecting somatosensory abnormalities. Reliability is an important scientific property and has been adequately tested for cutaneous QST. This study evaluates intraoral sites for which no reliability trials have yet been published. Inter- and intra-examiner reliability of 13 QST measures at intra- and extraoral trigeminal sites were investigated. Twenty-one healthy volunteers from Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden (13 women and 8 men, mean age 40.4 years, range 24–71) participated. Two independent examiners previously trained in the DFNS QST protocol examined the participants using the entire protocol. Each participant was examined twice on the same day, once by each examiner (inter-examiner reliability). After 1–3 weeks, one examiner re-examined all participants (intra-examiner reliability). The measurements were made on the skin of the right cheek, the tip of the tongue, and bilaterally on the gingival mucosa of the upper premolar region. The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) or kappa was used to calculate variations. Most tests had acceptable to excellent inter-examiner (ICC 0.41–0.89) and intra-examiner (ICC 0.43–0.87) reliability. For each test, inter- and intra-examiner reliabilities at intra- and extraoral sites were similar. No significant differences between right and left sides were found intraorally. We conclude that inter- and intra-examiner reliabilities of most QST measures are acceptable for assessing somatosensory function in the orofacial region.

aDepartment of Endodontics, Faculty of Odontology, Malmö University, Carl Gustafs väg 34, SE-20506 Malmö, Sweden

bDepartment of Clinical Oral Physiology, School of Dentistry, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

cDepartment of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark

dDepartments of Oral Medicine and Dental Public Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

eOrofacial Pain Unit, Department of Stomatognathic Physiology, Faculty of Odontology, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +46 40 6658498; fax: +46 40 6658577.


Submitted March 30, 2009; revised September 22, 2009; accepted October 29, 2009.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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