We are often asked by our customers: “what thermode should I use?” Our answer is usually: “it depends”.
This is one of the most common questions we are asked when a customer approaches us, intending to buy a thermal quantitative sensory testing (QST) device.
The thermode is the probe that is attached to the participants’ skin, that on command of the computer program changes its temperature to hot or cold.
There are several types of thermodes; which one fits you best, depends mostly on your intended use.
Let’s start with the basics:
The classic thermode size is the 30mm by 30mm contact surface thermode, or for short: the 30*30. This thermode size has been around for decades and has therefor gathered quite the following.
Most of the normative data that has been gathered with Medoc devices around the world, and specifically by the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain, the DFNS, has been gathered with this 30*30 thermode,,. If you intend to compare your QST results to normative values that have been collected from healthy participants, you may want to consider using the 30*30.
Another quite common thermode size is the 16*16. This thermode has been in use with researchers and clinicians who wish to stimulate smaller areas, like the face or the tongue, or perform QST on children.
One of the most asked-about thermodes is the CHEPS thermode. This thermode is special, because its technology allows working at very high speeds, for both heat and cold stimulation.
These high speeds are especially important for researchers who want to use a fast thermal stimulation in order to record Contact Heat Evoked Potentials (CHEPs),, or Cold Evoked Potentials (CEPs). Others may be interested in an application called: phasic heat temporal summation, in which very fast noxious heat pulses are applied in order to test for the wind-up phenomenon,.
The above thermode types (30*30, 16*16, CHEPS) are also available in fMRI versions. fMRI thermodes are different from normal thermodes for having additional 10 meters cable length, allowing the device to be placed outside the magnetic chamber and only the thermode to pass through the waveguide, reducing noise artifacts and insuring safety. These thermodes have undergone thorough testing and validation in different MRI environments.
Thermal stimulation is used in many trials that examined psychology (including reward processing, mindfulness, and more), and pain neurophysiology,.
Then there are the specialized thermodes. Some quantitative sensory testing has been conducted on the most uncommon places in the body, to elucidate specific issues.
Intra-oral testing is conducted with a small diameter Intraoral thermode for varying purposes like; tooth sensitivity,, pain disorders involving the mouth or the faceand thermal taster status.
Medoc’s Intravaginal thermode, formerly known as the Genito-sensory-analyzer (GSA) is utilized in studies which seek to assess somatosensory function and pain of the genital area in women,, and men.
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