Biceps load test II: A clinical test for SLAP lesions of the shoulder

S H Kim, K I Ha, J H Ahn, S H Kim, H J Choi
Arthroscopy 2001, 17 (2): 160-4

PURPOSE: The purpose of this report is to describe the biceps load test II for evaluating the superior labral anterior and posterior (SLAP) lesions.

TYPE OF STUDY: This is a double-blind study in consecutive data, which includes diagnostic accuracy of a test using sensitivity, specificity, and interexaminer reliability.

METHODS: In the supine position, the arm is elevated to 120 degrees and externally rotated to its maximal point, with the elbow in the 90 degrees flexion and the forearm in the supinated position. The patient is asked to flex the elbow while resisting the elbow flexion by the examiner. The test is considered positive if the patient complains of pain during the resisted elbow flexion. The test is negative if pain is not elicited or if the pre-existing pain during the elevation and external rotation of the arm is unchanged or diminished by the resisted elbow flexion. A prospective study was performed in 127 patients to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy for the biceps load test II. Two independent examiners were assigned to perform the new diagnostic test. The results of the tests were confirmed during the arthroscopic examination.

RESULTS: A positive test result in 38 subjects correlated with a SLAP lesion in 35 patients and an intact biceps-superior labrum in 3 patients. A negative test result in 89 patients correlated with an intact superior labrum complex in 85 patients, whereas 4 patients with a negative test result had a type II SLAP lesion. The biceps load test II had a sensitivity of 89.7%, a specificity of 96.9%, a positive-predictive value of 92.1%, a negative-predictive value of 95.5%, and a kappa coefficient of 0.815. The abduction and external rotation of the shoulder during the test changes the relative direction of the biceps fiber in a position of oblique angle to the posterosuperior labrum. The resisted contraction of the biceps increases the pain generated on the superior labrum that is already peeled off the glenoid margin in the abducted and externally rotated position.

CONCLUSIONS: The biceps load test II is an effective diagnostic test for SLAP lesions.

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