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Studies have suggested that quantitative sensory testing (QST) might hold a predictive value for the development of chronic postoperative pain and the response to pharmacological interventions. This review systematically summarizes the current evidence on the predictive value of QST for chronic postoperative pain and the effect of pharmacological interventions. The main outcome measures were posttreatment pain intensity, pain relief, presence of moderate-to-severe postoperative pain, responders of 30% and 50% pain relief, or validated questionnaires on pain and disability. A systematic search of MEDLINE and EMBASE yielded 25 studies on surgical interventions and 11 on pharmacological interventions. Seventeen surgical and 11 pharmacological studies reported an association between preoperative or pretreatment QST and chronic postoperative pain or analgesic effect. The most commonly assessed QST modalities were pressure stimuli (17 studies), temporal summation of pain (TSP, 14 studies), and conditioned pain modulation (CPM, 16 studies). Of those, the dynamic QST parameters TSP (50%) and CPM (44%) were most frequently associated with chronic postoperative pain and analgesic effects. A large heterogeneity in methods for assessing TSP (n = 4) and CPM (n = 7) was found. Overall, most studies demonstrated low-to-moderate levels of risk of bias in study design, attrition, prognostic factors, outcome, and statistical analyses. This systematic review demonstrates that TSP and CPM show the most consistent predictive values for chronic postoperative pain and analgesic effect, but the heterogeneous methodologies reduce the generalizability and hence call for methodological guidelines.


Kristian Kjær Petersen, Henrik B Vaegter, Audun Stubhaug, André Wolff, Brigitte E Scammell, Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Dennis B Larsen. The predictive value of quantitative sensory testing: a systematic review on chronic postoperative pain and the analgesic effect of pharmacological therapies in patients with chronic pain. Pain. 2021 Jan;162(1):31-44

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PMID: 32701654

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