Sensitivity and Specificity of Diagnostic Tools Essay

Sensitivity and Specificity of Diagnostic Tools Essay

Sensitivity and Specificity of Diagnostic Tools Essay

The Cognalyzer is a diagnostic tool utilized to test cannabis impairment by converting raw EEG (electroencephalogram) data into psychoactive effects on a scale of 0 to 100. The device can read brain waves from eight different regions of the brain (McDonald et al., 2021). Artificial intelligence and brain signaling techniques were utilized in developing this tool to make it possible to understand and identify the unique patterns which take place in the electrical brain activity, that are precisely caused by psychoactive effects. The current methods utilized to measure cannabis use are based on body fluid testing but are not 100% accurate with similar limitations, including saliva tests, blood tests, urine tests, and breath tests. The purpose of this discussion is to compare and contrast the sensitivity and specificity of the Cognalyzer devise and two other hypothetical diagnostic tools utilized in clinical practice.


Sensitivity and Specificity of the Cognalyzer device

            The Cognalyzer is characterized by alterations in brainwaves associated with cannabis inhalation with high accuracy levels in populations with a history of cannabis use. A study conducted by McDonald et al. (2021) assessed the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of this tool in distinguishing between pre and post cannabis inhalation among adult participants between the ages of 19 to 55 years. The study outcome revealed the accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of this device as 85.5% and 83.9%, 87.1% and 88.7%, and 83.9% and 79.0% respectively for algorithms V1 and V2. As compared to oral fluid tests, the study revealed that there were no significant false negative and false positive results that would otherwise impact the accuracy and reliability of this device. With the high sensitivity and specificity levels displayed, this diagnostic tool can be considered accurate and reliable with the potential to be used in the workplace and even along the roadside to test for cannabis use.

Blood Test to Screen for Blood Clots in the Emergency Room

The D-dimer test is a blood test utilized in assessing for blood clotting disorder in the ER. As compared to the Cognalyzer, studies show that the sensitivity of this D dimer test is relatively high at 97% with a low specificity of between 61% to 64% (Johnson et al., 2019). The high sensitivity of this test is quite crucial given that missing the diagnosis in the ER can be a fatal or nonfatal recurrence. False-positive of these tests is relatively low, and can negatively lead to misdiagnosis, missed treatment opportunities, or overtreatment. False-negative is also low but can lead to missed opportunities for treatment. Generally, this diagnostic tool is very crucial and considered accurate in the diagnosis of blood clotting disorders among patients in the emergency room.

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CT Scan Imaging for Lung Cancer Screening

            Low dose CT scan (LDCT) is the only recommended test for lung cancer screening. As compared to the Cognalyzer, the sensitivity of LDCT is relatively higher at 88.9%, with a low specificity of approximately as reported by recent studies 74% (Choe et al., 2020). The high sensitivity and low specificity are associated with an increased rate of false-positive which can lead to overdiagnosis, distress, unnecessary tests, and radiation-induced cancer among others. The false-negative rates are however low, just like in the case of the Cognalyzer device. The LDCT tool is however reliable and considered the only accurate tool for the diagnosis of lung cancer.


In the current technologically advanced era, most diagnostic tools are being advanced to promote their sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy. Out of all the three analyzed diagnostic tools, the Cognalyzer displayed high sensitivity and specificity, with a very low chance of false negative and false positive, promoting its relevance in current practice testing for cannabis impairment.


Choe, W., Chae, J. D., Lee, B. H., Kim, S. H., Park, S. Y., Nimse, S. B., … & Kim, T. (2020). 9G TestTM Cancer/Lung: A Desirable Companion to LDCT for Lung Cancer Screening. Cancers12(11), 3192.

Johnson, E. D., Schell, J. C., & Rodgers, G. M. (2019). The D‐dimer assay. American journal of hematology94(7), 833-839.

McDonald, A. C., Gasperin Haaz, I., Qi, W., Crowley, D. C., Guthrie, N., Evans, M., & Bosnyak, D. (2021). Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of a novel EEG-based objective test, the Cognalyzer®, in detecting cannabis psychoactive effects. Advances in therapy38(5), 2513-2531.


Compare and contrast the reported sensitivity and specificity of the Cognalyzer device in the article above alongside 2 other hypothetical diagnostic devices in their respective areas (compare the Cognalyzer to 2 other tests below). Provide your assessment of each device’s usefulness based on the data and the device’s intended use. Consider and address the potential consequences of false positives and false negatives and their implications on individuals and populations. Answer the question prompts below in your post.

Diagnostic Tool:

Cognalyzer EEG cannabis detection test (sensitivity 88%, specificity 82%)
A rapid antigen nasal swab test for COVID-19 (sensitivity 65%, specificity 99%)
A blood test to screen for blood clots in the emergency room (sensitivity 97%, specificity 35%)
CT scan imaging for lung cancer screening (sensitivity 94%, specificity 74%)
A questionnaire screening tool for detecting depression (sensitivity 90%, specificity 67%)
For your selected diagnostic tool or test, answer the following questions in your discussion post:

How critical is this test’s accuracy in its intended population or setting?
What are the implications of a false positive result?
What are the implications of a false negative result?
Do you consider this to be a valuable and reliable test? Explain why or why not.

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