Components of variance for vibratory and thermal threshold testing in normal and diabetic subjects

J Diabetes Complications. Jul-Sep 1995;9(3):170-6. doi: 10.1016/1056-8727(94)00042-m.


Quantitative sensory testing (QST) is commonly used in the assessment of diabetic neuropathy. However, little data are available on the reliability of tactile and thermal testing devices. Reproducibility of QST measures between centers has not been previously reported. This study was designed to validate QST testing procedures and determine if these devices are suitable for large scale multicenter clinical trials. Finger and toe vibratory (Vf, Vt) and thermal (Tf, Tt) thresholds were determined for ten normal individuals by a two-alternative forced-choice procedure using the Optacon Tactile Tester (OTT) and Thermal Sensitivity Tester (TST). Threshold measurements were reproducible between technologists and had a day-to-day coefficient of variation of Vf 20%, Vt 23%, Tf 41%, and Tt 95%. Thresholds were determined for 140 normal individuals at six centers. Mean threshold values between centers were not significantly different. Center-to-center coefficients of variation (CV) were Vf 44%, Vt 45%, Tf 47%, and Tt 87%. There was no significant difference in threshold measures with regard to sex, side studied, presence of calluses, or skin temperature. Vf thresholds significantly correlated with age (p < 0.01). There was no correlation between either vibratory or thermal thresholds in normal individuals, and nerve conduction velocities (NCV). Thermal and vibratory thresholds were determined for 98 diabetic patients. Diabetic subjects without clinical evidence of neuropathy were not significantly different from normal individuals, but diabetic patients with neuropathy had increased thresholds compared to normals (p < 0.05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cold Temperature
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sensory Thresholds*
  • Vibration