CLINICAL TRIAL
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
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The false-positive rate of thoracic outlet syndrome shoulder maneuvers in healthy subjects.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the incidence of false-positive findings of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) shoulder maneuvers, Adson's test (AT), costoclavicular maneuver (CCM), elevated arm stress test (EAST), and supraclavicular pressure (SCP) in healthy subjects.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, observational study was performed in a medical school and affiliated emergency medicine residency program setting. Participants included healthy adult volunteers without symptoms of TOS. The shoulder maneuvers AT, CCM, EAST, and SCP were performed in randomized order for 30 sec, 30 sec, 3 min, and 30 sec, respectively. Pulse quality and the presence and timing of pain or paresthesias were assessed.

RESULTS: 53 subjects were enrolled, including 27 women, aged 29.7 +/- 6.4 years (range 21-58 years). AT, CCM, EAST, and SCP resulted in an altered pulse in 11%, 11%, 62%, and 21%; pain in 0%, 0%, 21%, and 2%; and paresthesias in 11%, 15%, 36%, and 15% of cases, respectively. The following outcomes had reasonable false-positive rates (upper 95% confidence limit): pain with the AT (7%), CCM (7%), SCP (10%), or any 2 TOS shoulder maneuvers (10%); discontinuing the EAST because of symptoms (16%); or any symptom with 3 (13%) or 4 (7%) TOS shoulder maneuvers.

CONCLUSIONS: In a study of TOS shoulder maneuvers in healthy subjects, the outcomes of pulse alteration or paresthesias were unreliable in general. However, TOS shoulder maneuvers have reasonably low false-positive rates when a positive outcome is defined as pain after AT, CCM, or SCP; discontinuation of the EAST secondary to pain; pain in the same arm with > or =2 maneuvers; or any symptom in the same arm with > or =3 maneuvers.

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