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Measurement of glenohumeral joint translation using real-time ultrasound imaging: A physiotherapist and sonographer intra-rater and inter-rater reliability study.

Manual Therapy 2016 December
BACKGROUND: Ultrasonography is an economical and non-invasive method for measuring real-time joint movements. Although physiotherapists are increasingly using ultrasound imaging for rotator cuff disorders, there is a lack of evidence on their reliability in using ultrasonography to measure glenohumeral translation.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability of a physiotherapist in measuring anterior and posterior glenohumeral joint translation with ultrasound.

METHODS: Study design: within day reliability. Anterior and posterior glenohumeral translations were measured at rest, in response to passive accessory motion testing force, and with isometric internal and external rotation in 12 young healthy adults. All the measurements were made in real time by a physiotherapist and an experienced sonographer in two positions (neutral and abducted) and in two views (anterior and posterior). Intra-rater and inter-rater reliability were expressed using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) and measurement error (mm).

RESULTS: Intra-rater reliability was good for both raters (ICCP : 0.86-0.98; ICCS : 0.85-0.96). The inter-rater reliability between the physiotherapist and sonographer was moderate to good for posterior measurements (ICC 0.50-0.75) and poor to moderate for anterior measurements (ICC 0.31-0.53). For both intra-rater and inter-rater measurements, posterior translation was more reliable than the anterior translation with smaller measurement errors (posterior: 0.1-0.2 mm, anterior: 0.2-0.3 mm).

CONCLUSION: A physiotherapist with minimal training was reliable in measuring glenohumeral joint translations. The ultrasound method was reliable for repeated measurement of both anterior and posterior glenohumeral translations with posterior measurements being more reliable than anterior. This method is recommended for future research to investigate the stabilising role of rotator cuff muscles.

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