Reproducibility of skin prick test results in epidemiologic studies: a comparison of two devices

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Abstract

The reproducibility of skin prick tests under field conditions is essential for comparing prevalences between centers in epidemiologic multicenter studies. This study aimed to evaluate and compare the reproducibility of two widely used skin prick test devices: the Multi-Test and the ALK lancet. The subjects were 28 children, aged 6-14 years, with known sensitivities to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (D. pter.). Both devices were applied to each subject on two occasions, 1 week apart, by different, randomly assigned fieldworkers, using histamine, negative control, and the D. pter. allergen extract. For all three tested solutions, mean wheal sizes were larger for the Multi-Test than for the ALK lancet. The coefficient of variation for histamine was 21.8% for the Multi-Test and 17.3% for the ALK lancet. The coefficients of variation for the allergen D. pter. amounted to 47.4% for the Multi-Test and to 24.6% for the ALK lancet. The percentage of concordant test results was 92.6% for the Multi-Test and 100.0% for the ALK lancet for a cutoff point of wheal size equal to or greater than 1 mm. The results of this study suggest that the single ALK lancet performs slightly better than the Multi-Test device with respect to reproducibility under conditions of epidemiologic field studies.

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