The role of quantitative sensory testing (QST) in prediction of analgesic effect in humans is scarcely investigated. This updated review assesses the effectiveness in predicting analgesic effects in healthy volunteers, surgical patients and patients with chronic pain. A systematic review of English written, peer-reviewed articles was conducted using PubMed and Embase (1980-2013). Additional studies were identified by chain searching. Search terms included 'quantitative sensory testing', 'sensory testing' and 'analgesics'. Studies on the relationship between QST and response to analgesic treatment in human adults were included. Appraisal of the methodological quality of the included studies was based on evaluative criteria for prognostic studies. Fourteen studies (including 720 individuals) met the inclusion criteria. Significant correlations were observed between responses to analgesics and several QST parameters including (1) heat pain threshold in experimental human pain, (2) electrical and heat pain thresholds, pressure pain tolerance and suprathreshold heat pain in surgical patients, and (3) electrical and heat pain threshold and conditioned pain modulation in patients with chronic pain. Heterogeneity among studies was observed especially with regard to application of QST and type and use of analgesics. Although promising, the current evidence is not sufficiently robust to recommend the use of any specific QST parameter in predicting analgesic response. Future studies should focus on a range of different experimental pain modalities rather than a single static pain stimulation paradigm.
© 2013 European Federation of International Association for the Study of Pain Chapters.