The passive distraction test: a new diagnostic aid for clinically significant superior labral pathology

Arthroscopy. 2009 Dec;25(12):1374-9. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2009.04.070. Epub 2009 Sep 17.


Purpose: The purpose of this report is to present a new provocative maneuver, the passive distraction test (PDT), as an examination tool to be used in the evaluation of patients thought to have a SLAP lesion and to compare its accuracy, precision, and reproducibility alone and in conjunction with previously published maneuvers.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of 319 consecutive arthroscopies performed between May 2001 and November 2003 was performed. A total of 65 cases were excluded, 53 because of limitation of elevation to less than 150 degrees or pain in the starting test position and 12 who had previous shoulder procedures performed by the senior author, leaving 254 cases for review. A thorough history was obtained and a thorough physical examination performed with a focus on the involved shoulder including specific provocative maneuvers for the clinical diagnosis of a SLAP lesion. The active compression test, the anterior slide test, and the PDT were used to clinically diagnose a SLAP lesion. The results from the 3 provocative maneuvers were compared with the arthroscopic findings to determine the sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value (NPV), and positive predictive value of each test alone and in a logical combination.

Results: Of 254 shoulder arthroscopies, 61 had a clinically significant SLAP lesion, for an incidence of 24%. The sensitivity and specificity for the PDT were 53% and 94%, respectively, with an NPV of 87% and positive predictive value of 72%. In combination, the PDT and the active compression test yielded an NPV of 90.5%.

Conclusions: The PDT can be used alone or in combination to aid in the clinical evaluation and diagnosis of a SLAP lesion.

Level of evidence: Level IV, retrospective, diagnostic, sensitivity-specificity study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arm Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Arm Injuries / surgery
  • Arthroscopy / methods
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Physical Examination / standards
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery
  • Young Adult