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Int Endod J. 2017 Feb;50(2):135-142. doi: 10.1111/iej.12611. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

Pulp sensibility and vitality tests for diagnosing pulpal health in permanent teeth: a critical review.

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Al Mustashfa Al Am St, Al Andalus, King Fahad Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
School of Dentistry, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


The aim of this review was to critically appraise the literature related to pulp vitality and sensibility testing in order to determine the diagnostic accuracy of pulp tests with reference to a gold standard or control group. Implications of the results for research and clinical practice are also explored. The MEDLINE (Ovid), MEDLINE (PubMed), Embase and Cochrane databases were searched for English-language clinical trials in humans in which in vivo studies were designed to evaluate or compare the accuracy of selected pulp sensibility and pulp vitality tests in determining the state of pulpal health in permanent teeth. Studies were included only if the results were compared to a control group or to a valid gold or reference standard. Eight studies were identified. Shortcomings in research design were found to influence the findings. The limited number of studies investigating pulp vitality tests was insufficient to answer the research question. It was concluded from this critical appraisal of the literature that laser Doppler flowmetry appeared to be the most accurate method for diagnosing the state of pulpal health and came closest to serving as a gold standard. Pulp vitality tests proved superior to pulp sensibility tests for early and accurate assessments of the pulpal health of traumatized teeth. When accurately used and interpreted, pulp sensibility tests provide valuable diagnostic information, particularly when an electric pulp test is used in combination with either CO2 snow or Endo-Ice.


dental pulp; electric pulp tester; laser doppler flowmetry; pulse oximetry; thermal pulp test; tooth pulp

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