Background: The scratch collapse test (SCT) is a clinical examination maneuver that has been previously reported as a reliable and reproducible test to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The initial study by Cheng et al in 2008 showed a simple test with high sensitivity. However, subsequent attempts to reproduce those findings have resulted in lower accuracy. Our goal was to evaluate the use of the SCT for patients presenting with symptoms of pain, numbness, or weakness in an upper extremity. Methods: Forty patients were referred to the electrodiagnostic (EDX) lab for evaluation of an upper extremity. One blinded examiner who was familiar with the maneuver performed the SCT on all 40 patients. Another physician or technician performed the nerve conduction study and electromyography. Patient history and accompanying physical examination findings were not revealed to the SCT examiner. Results: The relationship between the SCT performed by a blinded examiner and the EDX performed by blinded examiners was nonsignificant (P = .676) and showed a sensitivity of 0.48, specificity of 0.59, positive predictive value of 0.61, and negative predictive value of 0.45. Conclusion: Based on this study and previous findings by other authors, we would advise against the use of the SCT in CTS for important patient-care decisions, such as surgical decision-making, until future research is done. It is possible that the SCT, in combination with other physical examination maneuvers, could increase diagnostic accuracy and enhance patient management.
Keywords: basic science; carpal tunnel syndrome; diagnosis; nerve; nerve compression; pain; rehabilitation; specialty.