BACKGROUND: This study describes a low-cost and time-efficient clinical sensory test battery (CST), and evaluates its concurrent validity as a screening tool to detect somatosensory dysfunction as determined by quantitative sensory testing (QST). METHOD: Three patient cohorts with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS, n=76), non-specific neck and arm pain (NSNAP, n=40) and lumbar radicular pain/radiculopathy (LR, n=26) were included. The CST consisted of 13 tests, each corresponding to a QST parameter and evaluating a broad spectrum of sensory functions using thermal (coins, ice cube, hot test tube) and mechanical (cotton wool, von Frey hairs, tuning fork, toothpicks, thumb and eraser pressure) detection and pain thresholds testing both loss and gain of function. Agreement rate, statistical significance and strength of correlation (phi coefficient) between CST and QST parameters were calculated. RESULTS: Several CST parameters (cold, warm and mechanical detection thresholds as well as cold and pressure pain thresholds) were significantly correlated with QST, with a majority demonstrating >60% agreement rates and moderate to relatively strong correlations. However, agreement varied among cohorts. Gain of function parameters showed stronger agreement in the CTS and LR cohorts, whereas loss of function parameters performed better in the NSNAP cohort. Other CST parameters (16mN von Frey tests, vibration detection, heat and mechanical pain thresholds, windup ratio) did not significantly correlate with QST. CONCLUSION: Some of the tests in the CST can detect somatosensory dysfunction as determined with QST. Parts of the CST could therefore be used as a low-cost screening tool in a clinical setting. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Eur J Pain