Diagnostics of femoroacetabular impingement and labral pathology of the hip: a systematic review of the accuracy and validity of physical tests

Arthroscopy. 2012 Jun;28(6):860-71. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2011.12.004. Epub 2012 Feb 24.


Purpose: Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and labral pathology have been recognized as causative factors for hip pain. The clinical diagnosis is now based on MRI-A (magnetic resonance imaging-arthrogram) because the physical diagnostic tests available are diverse and information on diagnostic accuracy and validity is lacking. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify the diagnostic accuracy and validity of physical tests that are used to assess FAI and labral pathology of the hip joint.

Methods: We performed a computerized literature search using PubMed, Medline, Web of Science, PEDro, the Cochrane Library, and CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) (through EBSCO). Studies describing tests and diagnostic accuracy studies were included. All included studies were assessed by the Levels of Evidence for Primary Research Questions list. All diagnostic accuracy studies were assessed by the QUADAS (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies) score.

Results: We included 21 studies in which 18 different tests were described. For 11 of these tests, diagnostic accuracy figures were presented. Sensitivity was examined for all tests. Other diagnostic accuracy figures were often lacking, and when available, these were low. All articles describing tests had Level IV or V evidence. All diagnostic accuracy studies, except 1, had Level II or III evidence. Three articles had a good QUADAS score.

Conclusions: In previous studies a wide range of physical diagnostic tests have been described. Little is known about the diagnostic accuracy and validity of these tests, and if available, these figures were low. The quality of the studies investigating these tests is too low to provide a conclusive recommendation for the clinician. Thus, currently, no physical tests are available that can reliably confirm or discard the diagnoses of FAI and/or labral pathology of the hip in clinical practice.

Level of evidence: Level III, systematic review of Level III studies.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Femoracetabular Impingement / diagnosis*
  • Hip Joint*
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Physical Examination
  • Reproducibility of Results