Encyclopedia of Pain

Editors: Gerald F. Gebhart, Robert F. Schmidt

Tail-Flick Test

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-28753-4_4375


The tail-flick test is a test of nociception used in rats and mice. The noxious stimulus is usually  radiant heat on the tail or  tail immersion in hot water, and the response is a flick of the tail. The outcome is the latency from the stimulus onset to the tail flick.


The tail-flick test is an extensively used test of nociception in rats and mice (Le Bars et al. 2001), first described in 1941 (D’Amour and Smith 1941). In the standard method, radiant heat is focused on the tail, and the time it takes until the animal flicks the tail away from the beam is measured. This  tail-flick latencyhas been regarded a measure of the nociceptive sensitivity of the animal and is prolonged for instance by opioid analgesics. A spinal transection above the lumbar level does not block the tail-flick response. Thus, the test relies on a spinal nociceptive reflex, and pain is not measured directly. Still, this is considered a very useful test of a component of “phasic pain,”...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BomedicineUniversity of Bergen, Haukeland University HospitalBergenNorway
  2. 2.University of BergenBergenNorway