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Pain. 2010 Apr;149(1):76-88. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.01.011. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

Reference values for quantitative sensory testing in children and adolescents: developmental and gender differences of somatosensory perception.

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Vodafone Foundation Institute and Chair for Children's Pain Therapy and Paediatric Palliative Care (VIKP), Witten/Herdecke University, Children's Hospital Datteln, Germany.


The Quantitative Sensory Testing (QST) protocol of the German research network on neuropathic pain (DFNS) encompassing all somatosensory modalities assesses the functioning of different nerve fibers and of central pathways. The aim of our study was: (1) to explore, whether this QST protocol is feasible for children, (2) to detect distribution properties of QST data and the impact of body site, age and gender and (3) to establish reference values for QST in children and adolescents. The QST protocol of the DFNS with modification of instructions and pain rating was used in 176 children aged 6.12-16.12years for six body sites. QST was feasible for children over 5years of age. ANOVAs revealed developmental, gender and body site differences of somatosensory functions similar to adults. The face was more sensitive than the hand and/or foot. Younger children (6-8years) were generally less sensitive to all thermal and mechanical detection stimuli but more sensitive to all pain stimuli than older (9-12years) children, whereas there were little differences between older children and adolescents (13-17years). Girls were more sensitive to thermal detection and pain stimuli, but not to mechanical detection and pain stimuli. Reference values differ from adults, but distribution properties (range, variance, and side differences) were similar and plausible for statistical factors. Our results demonstrate that the full QST protocol is feasible and valid for children over 5years of age with their own reference values.

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