Temperature effects on vibrotactile sensitivity threshold measurements: implications for carpal tunnel screening tests. journal of hand surgery Klinenberg, E., So, Y., Rempel, D. 1996; 21 (1): 132-137


This study examines the effect of skin temperature on fingertip vibrotactile sensitivity measurements and the resulting implications for carpal tunnel syndrome screening tests. Twenty subjects (11 men, 9 women) were tested for fingertip vibrotactile thresholds using the method of limits at four different frequencies (31.5, 125, 250, and 500 Hz) and six temperature categories (17 degrees-20 degrees C, 20 degrees-23 degrees C, 23 degrees-26 degrees C, 26 degrees-29 degrees C, 29 degrees-32 degrees C, 32 degrees-35 degrees C). Vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds increased with decreasing fingertip skin temperature. Furthermore, the relationship was a function of vibration frequency. Higher frequencies were more affected by temperature than lower frequencies, with significant effects beginning at 29 degrees C. These temperature-related effects may lead to possible false positive results in screening for carpal tunnel syndrome or other neuropathies. To minimize potential temperature-induced misclassification errors during these screening tests, fingertip skin temperature should be recorded before measurement and probably maintained above 29 degrees C during the measurement.

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