Quantitative sensory testing in patients with migraine: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Quantitative sensory testing (QST) is widely used to assess somatosensory function by application of controlled stimuli across a variety of modalities. The aim of the present meta-analysis is to synthesize QST results across a wide array of studies of patients with migraine to identify the QST parameters that are reliably different between patients with migraine and healthy controls. In addition, we aimed to determine whether such differences vary according to stimulus location. A comprehensive literature search (up to January 2017) was conducted, which included studies comparing QST parameters between patients with migraine and healthy controls. For each QST modality, we calculated up to 3 meta-analyses for combined (combined data from multiple testing locations), local (head and neck), and nonlocal (outside the head or neck) locations. A total of 65 studies were included in the meta-analyses. Lower heat and pressure pain thresholds were observed in patients with migraine compared with healthy controls in the combined locations. Importantly, lower pressure pain threshold in patients with migraine was found in local areas but not in nonlocal areas. In addition, patients with migraine had higher pain ratings to cold suprathreshold stimuli for combined and nonlocal areas, and higher pain ratings to electrical suprathreshold stimuli for nonlocal areas. This meta-analysis indicates that the alterations in nociceptive processing of patients with migraine may be modality, measure, and location specific. These results provide researchers and clinicians the evidence to choose QST parameters optimally suited for differentiating patients with migraine and healthy controls.

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