23 October 2018
Quantitative sensory testing has been used to assess the somatosensory system. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility and reliability of electrical (ENT), mechanical (MNT) and thermal (TNT) nociceptive testing and the effect of a conditioning stimulus on MNT.
Sixteen healthy client-owned dogs were included in this study. Stimulation was applied bilaterally to the dorsal and plantar aspect of the metacarpus and metatarsus respectively, using transcutaneous electrical stimulator, algometry and a cold nociceptive device in a randomized order until a behavior response was observed or a cut-off reached. Tests were performed twice (60 seconds apart) by two observers. Retesting was performed 5 hours later. The diffuse noxious inhibitory control was tested by comparing MNT pre- and post-conditioning stimuli. Sham-testing was performed for ENT and TNT. Statistical analysis included linear model and intra-class correlation coefficient ( P<0.05).
Feasibility was 99% (ENT), 93.5% (MNT) and 93.6% (TNT). Data for TNT were not analyzed due to inconsistent results. Mean ± SD were 48±22.6 mA (ENT) and 11.9±3.5 N (MNT). MNT was higher for thoracic than for pelvic limbs ( P=0.002). Conditioning stimulus increased MNT ( P=0.049). Inter-observer reliability was 91.4% (ENT) and 60.9% (MNT). False-positive responses were 15% (ENT) and 35.7% (TNT).
ENT was feasible, repeatable and superior to MNT and TNT. The assessment of the diffuse noxious inhibitory control with a conditioning stimulus showed promising results in dogs. These tools could be used in naturally-occurring disease to provide insight on their underlying mechanisms and therapeutics.