Evaluation of the ability of thermal and electrical tests to register pulp vitality

Endod Dent Traumatol. 1999 Jun;15(3):127-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-9657.1999.tb00769.x.

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to evaluate the ability of thermal and electrical tests to register pulp vitality. Sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value and positive predictive value were calculated by comparing the test results with a "gold standard". The thermal tests studied were a cold test (ethyl chloride) and a heat test (hot gutta-percha). For the electrical test, the Analytic Technology Pulp Tester was used. The examined teeth were 59 teeth with unknown pulpal status in need of endodontic treatment and 16 intact teeth, all with radiographically normal periapical bone structures. In total 46 teeth with vital pulps and 29 teeth with necrotic pulps were tested. This gave a disease prevalence of 39%. The gold standard was established by direct pulp inspection of the 59 teeth in need of endodontic treatment. In the 16 intact teeth the pulp was judged as vital. The number of true positive (TP), false positive (FP), true negative (TN) and false negative (FN) test results was calculated for each method as compared to the gold standard. Based on this, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value were calculated for each method. The sensitivity was 0.83 for the cold test, 0.86 for the heat test and 0.72 for the electrical test. The specificity was 0.93 for the cold test, 0.41 for the heat test and 0.93 for the electrical test. The positive predictive value was 0.89 for the cold test, 0.48 for the heat test and 0.88 for the electrical test, and the negative predictive value was 0.90 for the cold test, 0.83 for the heat test and 0.84 for the electrical test. This indicated that the probability of a non-sensitive reaction representing a necrotic pulp was 89% with the cold test, 48% with the heat test and 88% with the electrical test. It also indicated that the probability of a sensitive reaction representing a vital pulp was 90% with the cold test, 83% with the heat test and 84% with the electrical test.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dental Pulp Necrosis / diagnosis
  • Dental Pulp Test* / instrumentation
  • Dental Pulp Test* / methods
  • Electricity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Tooth, Nonvital / diagnosis*