Codman's Test

Original Editor - Tyler Shultz

Top Contributors - Rachael Lowe, Tyler Shultz, Evan Thomas, Laura Ritchie and Naomi O'Reilly

Purpose

Codman's test is typically used in the assessment of a suspected rotator cuff tear. This test is also commonly referred to as the drop-arm test or sign.

Technique

The therapist passively raises the patient's arm to 90 degrees of abduction. The patient then lowers the arm back to neutral with the palm down. If the patient's arm drops suddenly or experiences pain, then the test is considered positive.

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Evidence

Test Item Cluster:
This test may be combined as a cluster with the Infraspinatus Test and the Painful Arc Sign to test for the presence of a full-thickness rotator cuff tear. If all three tests report positive results, then the positive likelihood ratio is 15.6 and if all three tests are negative, the negative likelihood ratio is 0.16. If all three tests are positive and the patient is older than 60 years, the positive likelihood ratio is 28.0. If two of three tests are positive, the positive likelihood ratio is 3.60.[4]
See test diagnostics page for explanation of statistics.

References

  1. Physical Therapy Haven. Drop Arm Test. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhN1_ZJyUnk [last accessed 22/03/13]
  2. Physical Therapy Haven. Infraspinatus Test. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVQy0qPU3Ho [last accessed 22/03/13]
  3. Ben Benjamin. Painful Arc Test. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU-ppPL0JpQ [last accessed 22/03/13]
  4. Park, H.B., Yokota, A., Gill, H.S., EI RG, McFarland, E.G. (2005). Diagnostic accuracy of clinical tests for the different degrees of subacromial impingement syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 87(7), 1446-1455.