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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jul 2023 - 4 Aug 2023

2023 Jul 28



Quantitative somatosensory testing of the abdomen: establishing initial reference values across developmental age and biological sex.


Sieberg CB, Lunde CE, Shafrir AL, Meints SM, Madraswalla M, Huntley D, Olsen H, Wong C, DiVasta AD, Missmer SA, Sethna N


Abdominal pain is a common symptom of several debilitating conditions (eg, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and endometriosis) and affects individuals throughout their lifespan. Quantitative sensory testing (QST) reference values exist for many body sites but not the abdomen. Using a QST battery adapted from the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain, we collected QST data on the upper and lower abdomen in 181 pain-free participants, ages 12 to 50 years, to establish reference values by age and biological sex. The normative values are presented as medians for each QST measure by sex (male, n = 63; female, n = 118) and across 3 age categories (adolescents: 12-19 years, n = 48; young adults: 20-30 years, n = 87; and adults: 31-50 years, n = 46). Evaluating the sensory functioning of the abdomen and characterizing ranges of QST measures is an essential first step in understanding and monitoring the clinical course of sensory abnormalities in patients with underlying diseases affecting the abdomen and pelvis. The impact of age and development on sensory functioning is necessary, given age-related changes in pain perception and modulation.