In our research into emerging uses for tuning forks, we came across an interesting study by Kothari et al. In their article, they hypothesized that improved timing of post-operative analgesics could be achieved by assessing the return of vibration perception. Specifically, they studied 60 male patients who had undergone inguinal herniorrhaphy under subarachnoid block. Patients were evenly divided into control and experimental groups. The experimental group was given medication upon return of vibration sense, controls were given their doses after complaining of pain. All patients had vibration testing performed at the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) reasoning that this large nerve fiber function would precede the recovery of small nerve fibers responsible for pain sensation. They suggested that optimal timing of analgesic administration could be achieved by monitoring the return of vibration perception thereby reducing patient pain and the need for additional pain medication.
The results of this study were promising as Kothari noted in their discussion: “…we conclude that if analgesic is given with the return of vibration sense as compared to actual return of subjective pain at the surgical site, then not only patient compliance is better (low VAS Score) but the respiratory and haemodynamic parameters also remain stable.”
Although this technique has not yet gained widespread popularity, it could develop into a helpful method of improving pain relief following surgery in the future.