Taylor, P. 2020. Remote controlled nociceptive threshold testing systems in large animals. Animals 10(9), 1556.
Nociceptive threshold (NT) testing is widely used for the study of pain and its alleviation. The end point is a normal behavioural response, which may be affected by restraint or unfamiliar surroundings, leading to erroneous data. Remotely controlled thermal and mechanical NT testing systems were developed to allow free movement during testing and were evaluated in cats, dogs, sheep, horses and camels. Thermal threshold (TT) testing incorporated a heater and temperature sensor held against the animal’s shaved skin. Mechanical threshold (MT) testing incorporated a pneumatic actuator attached to a limb containing a 1–2 mm radiused pin pushed against the skin. Both stimuli were driven from battery powered control units attached on the animal’s back, controlled remotely via infra-red radiation from a handheld component. Threshold reading was held automatically and displayed digitally on the unit. The system was failsafe with a safety cut-out at a preset temperature or force as appropriate. The animals accepted the equipment and behaved normally in their home environment, enabling recording of reproducible TT (38.5–49.8 °C) and MT (2.7–10.1 N); precise values depended on the species, the individual and the stimulus characteristics. Remote controlled NT threshold testing appears to be a viable refinement for pain research.