A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the diagnostic accuracy of an electrodermal test in allergic subjects

Clin Exp Allergy. 2002 Jun;32(6):928-32. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.2002.01398.x.


Background: Many unconventional diagnostic procedures based on bioelectrical skin responses are presently widely used for allergic diseases, but rigorous experimental evaluations of their accuracy are still lacking.

Aim: We assessed whether an electrodermal device can correctly diagnose respiratory allergy.

Methods: The diagnostic accuracy of the electrodermal device was assessed in double-blind fashion in 72 allergic patients and 28 healthy volunteers. A random sequence of substances in sealed vials, including histamine, allergens, immunoglobulins at various dilutions and physiological saline, were tested in duplicate in each subject.

Results: A wide variability of the measurements was found in most patients irrespective of their allergy status and of the substance tested. Allergic patients showed more negative skin electrical response at the second trial, compared to normal controls, independent of the tested substance. No significant difference in skin electrical response between allergens and negative controls could be detected.

Conclusion: We conclude that the studied bioelectrical method, under blind testing, cannot correctly detect respiratory allergy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / complications
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / diagnosis*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / physiopathology
  • Skin Tests*