Development and initial validation of a sensory threshold examination protocol (STEP) for phenotyping canine pain syndromes

Sanchis-Mora, S and Chang, Y M and Abeyesinghe, S M and Fisher, A and Volk, H A and Pelligand, L (2017) Development and initial validation of a sensory threshold examination protocol (STEP) for phenotyping canine pain syndromes. VETERINARY ANAESTHESIA AND ANALGESIA, 44 (3). pp. 600-614. ISSN 1467-2987

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Objective To study feasibility and test-retest repeatability of a sensory threshold examination protocol (STEP) and report quantitative sensory threshold distributions in healthy dogs. Study design Prospective, observational, cohort study. Animals Twenty-five healthy client-owned dogs. Methods Tactile sensitivity (TST) (von Frey filaments), mechanical thresholds (MT with 2, 4 and 8 mm probes), heat thresholds (HT) and responsiveness to cold stimulus (CT at 0 °C) were quantitatively assessed for five body areas (BA: tibias, humeri, neck, thoracolumbar region and abdomen) in a randomized order on three different occasions. Linear Mixed Model and Generalised Linear Mixed models were used to evaluate the effects of body weight category, age, sex, BA, occasion, feasibility score and investigator experience. Test-retest repeatability was evaluated with the Intra-class Correlation Coefficient (ICC). Results The STEP lasted 90 minutes without side effects. The BA affected most tests (p = 0.001). Higher thresholds and longer cold latencies were scored in the neck (p = 0.024) compared to other BAs. Weight category affected all thresholds (p = 0.037). Small dogs had lower MT (~1.4 N mean difference) and HT (1.1 0C mean difference) than other dogs (p = 0.029). Young dogs had higher HT than adults (2.2 0C mean difference) (p = 0.035). Gender also affected TST, MT and HT (p < 0.05) (females versus males: TST OR= 0.5, MT= 1.3 N mean difference, HT= 2.2 0C mean difference). Repeatability was substantial to moderate for all tests, but poor for TST. There was no difference in thresholds between occasions, except for CT. Test-retest repeatability was slightly better with the 2 mm MT probe compared to other diameters and improved with operator experience. Conclusions and clinical relevance The STEP was feasible, well tolerated and showed substantial test-retest repeatability in healthy dogs. Further validation is needed in dogs suffering pain.

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