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[Sympathetically maintained pain (SMP): phentolamine test vs sympathetic nerve blockade. Comparison of two diagnostic methods]

Author(s): Wehnert Y, Muller B, Larsen B, Kohn D

Affiliation(s): Universitatsklinik des Saarlandes, Orthopadische Klinik und Poliklinik, Homburg, Germany. ywehnert@yahoo.de

Publication date & source: 2002-11, Orthopade., 31(11):1076-83.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Comparative Study; English Abstract; Randomized Controlled Trial

The objective of our study was to clarify whether the phentolamine test is as suitable as sympathetic blockade in diagnosing cases of sympathetically maintained pain. The specificity and the sensitivity of both procedures were examined within a prospective and randomized study.Both a local sympathetic blockade and an intravenous phentolamine infusion were carried out in 29 patients with persistent pain in the area of the upper or lower extremities. A significant improvement was defined as reduction of pain of at least 50%. There were no complications in either test procedure. The phentolamine test registers sympathetically maintained pain well when it has a positive result (specificity of 83%). However, the phentolamine test shows only a low sensitivity of 69%. The phentolamine test, on the other hand, can be realized very easily and safely. Therefore, based on the results obtained, it is recommended that the phentolamine test be applied for primary diagnosis. In case of a negative result, further diagnosis should follow subsequently, for example with local sympathetic blockade.

Page last updated: 2008-08-10

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