Humidity affects the performance of von Frey monofilaments

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Background Assessment of tactile and nociceptive thresholds of the skin with calibrated polyamide monofilaments is an established testing method both in animal and in human research. It is known that changes in relative humidity may affect the physical properties of the monofilaments. As this effect has only been studied in very small diameter monofilaments, used in neonatal research, we therefore studied complete sets of polyamide monofilaments. Methods The effects were studied in a controlled climate chamber during six incremental changes in relative humidity from 20% to 79% (22-24 degrees C). Following 24 h of equilibration at each humidity level, calibration with a precision scale was performed. Results A highly significant linear correlation between the natural logarithm (In) of the bending force and the von Frey number was observed at all humidity levels (r2 > 0.99, P < 0.0001). An inverse linear relationship between relative humidity and In of the bending force for each monofilament was found (r2=0.95, P < 0.0001). One percent increase in relative humidity corresponded to a 1-4% relative decrease in numerical bending force, depending on the diameter of the monofilament. A significant linear relationship was observed between the coefficient of variation and the relative humidity (r2=0.87, P < 0.001). Conclusions The data indicate that the hygroscopic properties of polyamide monofilaments must be taken into account for their reliable use in quantitative sensory testing.


  • M. U. Werner
  • P. Rotboll-Nielsen
  • Catarina Ellehuus Hilmersson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Clinical Medicine
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-582
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch