The evaluation of various physical examinations for the diagnosis of type II superior labrum anterior and posterior lesion

Am J Sports Med. 2008 Feb;36(2):353-9. doi: 10.1177/0363546507308363. Epub 2007 Nov 15.


Background: Many types of physical examinations have been used to diagnose superior labrum anterior and posterior lesions; no decisive clinical test is available for confirming the diagnosis.

Hypothesis: A selection from 10 well-established physical tests, alone or in combination, can be used to differentiate lesions with biceps anchor detachment from those with an intact biceps anchor with arthroscopic correlation.

Study design: Case control study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Among 297 patients who underwent shoulder arthroscopy between January 2004 and July 2005, 146 patients were enrolled in the study as a type II superior labrum anterior and posterior lesion group and an age-matched control group. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of each test and all possible combinations of 2 and 3 tests were analyzed. The same procedures were repeated in patients younger than and older than 40 years.

Results: The sensitivities of the Whipple, O'Brien, apprehension, and compression-rotation tests and the specificities of the Yergason, biceps load II, and Kibler tests were relatively high. No single physical examination was found to be simultaneously highly sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of a type II superior labrum anterior and posterior lesion. When 2 of the 3 relatively sensitive tests (O'Brien, apprehension, or compression-rotation test) were combined with 1 of the 3 relatively specific tests (Speed, Yergason, or biceps load II test), sensitivity and specificity reached approximately 70% and 95%, respectively. Similar trends were noted in the younger and older patient groups and in the isolated type II superior labrum anterior and posterior lesion group.

Conclusion: The data suggest that some combinations of 2 relatively sensitive clinical tests and 1 relatively specific clinical test increase the diagnostic efficacy of superior labrum anterior and posterior lesions. Requiring 1 of the 3 chosen tests to be positive will result in a sensitivity of about 75%, whereas requiring all 3 to be positive will result in a specificity of about 90%.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroscopy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Tendon Injuries / classification
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnosis*