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Papers of the Week

2019 Oct

Vet J


Interobserver agreement of an electronic von Frey device for measuring mechanical sensory thresholds in normal dogs.


Electronic von Frey Aesthesiometry (VFA) has been previously reported as a useful method of mechanical quantitative sensory testing (QST) for evaluating neuropathic pain in dogs. Intraobserver agreement has been shown to be good to excellent; however, interobserver agreement has not been evaluated and is vital to the use of this technique in multicenter veterinary clinical trials in neuropathic pain. The goal of this study was to evaluate the interobserver agreement of sensory thresholds obtained using electronic VFA in a group of normal small breed dogs. Twenty healthy dogs (<20 kg) were recruited from the general practice population at the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center. Three clinically experienced yet QST novice evaluators used an electronic von Frey device to measure mechanical sensory threshold (ST) after a standardised training session conducted by an expert evaluator. Each dog was assessed by all three evaluators on the same day with both evaluator and limb test order randomised and testing sessions separated by 5 min. Mean ST values were averaged for all four limbs to produce a single value per dog for comparison between evaluators. Agreement between evaluators was determined using the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC; two-way model for consistency, single measures). ICC across all three evaluators was 0.48, indicating moderate agreement. Moderate interobserver agreement is not sufficient to support the use of this technique in multi-center clinical trials, and our results underscore the importance of using a single evaluator for this QST technique until better agreement can be demonstrated.