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Krista M. Hixson, Hannah B. Horris, Tamara C. Valovich McLeod and Cailee E. Welch Bacon

Clinical Scenario:

Thoracic outlet syndrome is quite challenging to diagnose. Currently, there are myriad diagnostic procedures used in the diagnosis of all types of thoracic outlet syndrome. However, controversy exists over which diagnostic procedures produce accurate findings.

Clinical Question:

Can clinical diagnostic tests accurately diagnose patients presenting with symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome?

Summary of Key Findings:

A thorough literature search returned 6 possible studies; 3 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included. Two studies supported the use of clinical diagnostic tests for the diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome. One study reported high false-positive rates among clinical diagnostic tests for thoracic outlet syndrome. One study reported that clinical diagnostic test findings correlate to provocative positioned magnetic resonance imaging findings.

Clinical Bottom Line:

There is moderate evidence to support the use of the Halstead maneuver (also known as the costoclavicular maneuver or exaggerated military brace test), Wright’s test, Cyriax Release test, and supraclavicular pressure test to have good diagnostic accuracy for the provocation of symptoms in patients presenting with upper extremity pathology. However, these clinical diagnostic tests do not appear to allow for the differential diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome exclusively. The use of the Adson’s test and Roos test should be discontinued for the differential diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome.

Strength of Recommendation:

Grade B evidence exists to support the accuracy of the Halstead maneuver, Wright’s test, Cyriax Release test, and supraclavicular pressure test for the diagnosis of upper extremity pathology in general. Grade C evidence exists for the use of these clinical diagnostic tests to exclusively diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome.

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Hannah Horris, Barton E. Anderson, R. Curtis Bay and Kellie C. Huxel Bliven

Context: Altered diaphragm function is linked to decreased core stabilization, postural changes, and decreased function. Two clinical tests used to assess breathing are the Hi-lo and lateral rib expansion (LRE) tests. It is currently unknown how breathing classification based on these tests differ and how their results are affected by varying test positions. Objective: To compare the results of breathing tests when conducted in varying test positions. Design: Prospective cross-sectional study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: A total of 50 healthy adults (females 31 and males 29; age 29.3 [4.1] y; height 170.0 [10.4] cm; weight70.7 [15.1] kg). Intervention(s): Hi-lo and LRE tests in supine, seated, standing, and half-kneeling body positions. All tests were recorded and later scored by a single examiner. A generalized estimating equations approach with breathing test and body position as factors was used for analysis. Pairwise comparison with Bonferroni correction was used to adjust for multiple tests. Statistical significance was set at P = .05, 2 tailed. Main Outcome Measures: Hi-lo and LRE tests were scored based on the presence or absence of abdominal excursion, LRE, and superior rib cage migration. Following scoring, results were classified as functional or dysfunctional based on observation of these criteria. Results: A significant breathing test × test position interaction (P < .01) was noted, as well as main effects for test (P < .01) and test position (P < .01). All Hi-lo test positions identified significantly more dysfunctional breathers in positions of increased stability demand (P < .01), except between standing and half-kneeling positions (P = .52). In the LRE test, all positions were similar (P > .99) except for half-kneeling, which was significantly different from all other positions (P < .01). Conclusions: The Hi-lo test and LRE tests assess different breathing mechanics. Clinicians should use these tests in combination to gain a comprehensive understanding of a person’s breathing pattern. The Hi-lo test should be administered in multiple testing positions.