The number connection tests A and B are regarded as sensitive psychometric measures for the assessment of early hepatic encephalopathy. Review of the studies dealing with the diagnostic sensitivity of the number connection tests, however, shows that the scoring of the number connection tests results differs between studies. Most groups define the limits of the normal range by studying small control groups. Others use scores given in the literature without ensuring the comparability of the test versions used. Thus, there is a need for normative data for the number connection test results and for re-evaluation of the sensitivity of the tests using valid scores.Methods:
In this study the number connection tests A and B were administered to 249 healthy volunteers (age: 18 to 76 years) to analyze the influence of age, education and occupation on their results. In addition, the age-corrected normative data were applied to 169 patients with grade 0-I hepatic encephalopathy. The specificity and sensitivity of age-corrected and age-independent normative data of the number connection tests were compared.Results:
There was a significant influence of age and education on the number connection test results, but only a negligible effect of occupation. Application of the age-corrected normative data to the test results of the patients with grade I hepatic encephalopathy significantly decreased the sensitivity of the number connection tests for hepatic encephalopathy compared to widely used age-independent normal ranges, but also increased the specificity.Conclusion:
The use of standardized versions of the number connection tests and age-related normative data is recommended.