Shoulder impingement syndrome: correlations between clinical tests and ultrasonographic findings

Ortop Traumatol Rehabil. 2009 Mar-Apr;11(2):120-6.


Objectives: To compare the diagnosis of shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS) established by clinical and ultrasonographic examination and to evaluate the value of clinical tests for SIS as well as for rotator cuff pathology.

Methods: One hundred patients with periathrophatia scapulohumeralis entered the study, including 64 females and 36 males aged between 20-84 years (mean 56.8 and 57.5, respectively). Clinical and ultrasonographic examinations were carried out by independent observers, a rheumatologist and a musculoskeletal-trained sonographer. Clinical tests for SIS and for each of the tendons of the rotator cuff, as well as static and dynamic ultrasonographic examinations were performed for both shoulders. Findings were compared and statistically analyzed.

Results: The Hawkins test (72.2%) proved to be the most sensitive clinical test for the identification of SIS and the Neer test (95.3%) was the most specific one. When four tests were simultaneously positive, the specificity for the diagnosis was 98.5% but the sensitivity decreased to 40.3%. Jobe's test indicated supraspinatus involvement with a specificity of 90% but it was not able to disclose the type of lesions. The sensitivity and specificity of the tests aiming to elicit infraspinatus tendon pathology were of low value whereas those addressing subscapularis tendon involvement were rather of moderate value. SIS was clinically correctly diagnosed in 80.5% of cases, but its characteristic stages were poorly recognized (stage I 50%, stage II 70%, and stage III 30.7%).

Conclusions: Although clinical tests are insufficient for clinical diagnosis, the examination of the patient still plays an important role in rotator cuff disorders. Ultrasonography should be used for all patients suffering from painful shoulder in order to improve the diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Poland
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / complications
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Shoulder Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder Pain / diagnosis*
  • Shoulder Pain / diagnostic imaging
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Ultrasonography