, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 199-206
Date: 26 Apr 2012

Quantitative Sensory Testing of Neuropathic Pain Patients: Potential Mechanistic and Therapeutic Implications

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Abstract

Quantitative sensory testing (QST) is a widely accepted tool to investigate somatosensory changes in pain patients. Many different protocols have been developed in clinical pain research within recent years. In this review, we provide an overview of QST and tested neuroanatomical pathways, including peripheral and central structures. Based on research studies using animal and human surrogate models of neuropathic pain, possible underlying mechanisms of chronic pain are discussed. Clinically, QST may be useful for 1) the identification of subgroups of patients with different underlying pain mechanisms; 2) prediction of therapeutic outcomes; and 3) quantification of therapeutic interventions in pain therapy. Combined with sensory mapping, QST may provide useful information on the site of neural damage and on mechanisms of positive and negative somatosensory abnormalities. The use of QST in individual patients for diagnostic purposes leading to individualized therapy is an interesting concept, but needs further validation.