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Muscle Nerve. 2009 Aug;40(2):257-63. doi: 10.1002/mus.21270.

Influence of intrinsic noise generated by a thermotesting device on thermal sensory detection and thermal pain detection thresholds.

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Center for Anesthesiology, Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine, University Clinic Göttingen, Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, D-37099 Göttingen, Germany.


Various factors can influence thermal perception threshold measurements and contribute significantly to unwanted variability of the tests. To minimize this variability, testing should be performed under strictly controlled conditions. Identifying the factors that increase the variability and eliminating their influence should increase reliability and reproducibility. Currently available thermotesting devices use a water-cooling system that generates a continuous noise of approximately 60 dB. In order to analyze whether this noise could influence the thermal threshold measurements we compared the thresholds obtained with a silent thermotesting device to those obtained with a commercially available device. The subjects were tested with one randomly chosen device on 1 day and with the other device 7 days later. At each session, heat, heat pain, cold, and cold pain thresholds were determined with three measurements. Bland-Altman analysis was used to assess agreement in measurements obtained with different devices and it was shown that the intersubject variability of the thresholds obtained with the two devices was comparable for all four thresholds tested. In contrast, the intrasubject variability of the thresholds for heat, heat pain, and cold pain detection was significantly lower with the silent device. Our results show that thermal sensory thresholds measured with the two devices are comparable. However, our data suggest that, for studies with repeated measurements on the same subjects, a silent thermotesting device may allow detection of smaller differences in the treatment effects and/or may permit the use of a smaller number of tested subjects. Muscle Nerve 40: 257-263, 2009.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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