Bone and Joint Institute

What is the reliability of clinical measurement tests for humeral head position? A systematic review

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Journal of Hand Therapy





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© 2017 Hanley & Belfus Study Design Systematic review. Introduction Physiotherapists routinely assess the position of the humeral head (HH) in patients with shoulder pain. Purpose of the Study To conduct a systematic review to determine the quality and content of studies that evaluated the reliability of clinical measurement methods for assessing the HH position. Methods Five databases and gray literature were searched for studies fitting the eligibility criteria. After abstract and full-text review, the included studies were appraised using the Quality Appraisal of Reliability Studies checklist. Articles were considered of high quality if 8 was achieved on the checklist, and the overall quality of evidence was classified using prespecified criteria. Multiple raters extracted and performed quality ratings; a consensus process was used to finalize the reliability data that were synthesized and presented in a narrative synthesis. Reliability was classified as excellent if the intracorrelation coefficients or intercorrelation coefficients (ICCs) reported exceeded 0.75. Results Fifteen studies on the reliability of ultrasound (US) and 3 studies on palpation were included. The methodologic quality was moderate in 17 of 18 studies. The intrarater reliability for all studies was excellent (ICC, 0.76-0.99) with the exception of the 90° abduction in internal rotation position (ICC, 0.48) for palpation. The inter-rater reliability tended to be lower (ICC, 0.48-0.68) for palpation and higher (ICC, 0.66-0.99) for US. Physiotherapists demonstrated excellent intrarater reliability across different levels of training in ultrasonography. Discussion Our study found a moderate overall level of evidence to support the use of US for assessing HH position in symptomatic or asymptomatic subjects. Conclusion A moderate overall level of evidence exists for the use of US to reliably assess the HH position. Limited research supports the methods used for palpation within a clinical setting. Level of Evidence 2a.

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