Test-Retest and Inter-Examiner Reliability of a Novel Bedside Quantitative Sensory Testing Battery in Postherpetic Neuralgia Patients

Ajay D. Wasan, Benedict J. Alter, Robert R. Edwards, Charles E. Argoff, Nalini Sehgal, David Walk, Toby Moeller-Bertram, Mark S. Wallace, Misha Backonja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In health and disease, the somatosensory system has been interrogated with standardized research techniques, collectively referred to as quantitative sensory testing (QST). In neuropathic pain, QST has been used to characterize multiple sensory derangements. However, the use of QST outside the lab has been limited by several factors, including a lack of standardization, variability in procedural technique, and duration of testing that would be unacceptable for clinic. To address these shortcomings, the Neuropathic Pain Research Consortium designed an easy and low-cost “bedside” QST procedure. To test the hypothesis that this procedure would be clinically reliable over time and across different examiners, a multisite, blinded study was performed in subjects with postherpetic neuralgia. Generally, agreement between 2 examiners and over 2 study visits with 1 examiner was high. Additionally, intraclass correlation coefficients and Kappa statistics calculated showed that the battery of QST tests included were highly reliable. Interestingly, mechanical modalities (light brush, pinprick, pressure, and vibration) showed the highest reliability. The least reliable modalities were cool (room temperature) and warmth (38°C). These data demonstrate that the Neuropathic Pain Research Consortium beside QST protocol is reliable across examiner and over time, providing a validated QST tool for use in clinical practice and clinical trials. Perspective: This blinded, multicenter trial in 32 patients with postherpetic neuralgia demonstrates bedside QST is reliable and suitable as a clinical trial outcome. The novel bedside battery could be used in clinical trials or in clinical practice over time given the reliability data presented in this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-868
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 United States Association for the Study of Pain, Inc.


  • Chronic pain
  • neuropathic pain
  • postherpetic neuralgia
  • quantitative sensory testing, reliability


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