2008 Volume 57 Issue 1 Pages 65-72
The tail flick (TF) response is regarded as a spinal reflex that is influenced by supraspinal structures. The TF test using radiant heat is the most common way to assess pain perception; however, there are few reports dealing with the heat source's properties and score consistency. This study examined the usefulness of light anesthesia for suppressing supraspinal signals and the effects of radiant heat on skin temperature during TF testing. The fluctuations of TF latency over one hour were evaluated while the rats were given oxygen and 0%, 0.5%, 1.0%, or 1.5% isoflurane. The stimulator's infrared radiant (IR) power flux was measured over time, and the tail skin surface temperature was predicted using a non-linear regression equation. TF latencies were measured at various heat source intensities, and response temperatures were estimated. Inhalation anesthesia suppressed the TF reflex according to the inspiratory concentration of the volatile anesthetic. IR power fluxes reached constant power 2.5 s after the stimulator was turned on, and the predicted skin temperature depended on the maximum IR power flux of the IR intensity and the radiation time. One percent isoflurane inhalation and an IR20 heat intensity (which was 161.5 mW/cm2 and resulted in a skin temperature of 65°C after 10 s of radiation) provided reliable TF latencies on repeated TF testing. Given these results, it can be concluded that the stimulator setting influenced TF latency, and that the inhalation of light anesthesia provided consistent scores on repeated TF testing.