Adson’s Test for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Adson’s Test, also known as Adson’s Maneuver, is a test used in orthopedic examination of the shoulder when testing for thoracic outlet syndrome

Thoracic Outlet
By English: Nicholas Zaorsky, M.D. (English: Nicholas Zaorsky, M.D.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Involved Structures

  • subclavian artery
  • anterior scalene
  • middle scalene

Starting Position

The test can be performed with the patient in either sitting or standing with their elbow in full extension. As usual, it is best to test both sides for comparison.

Test Movement

The examiner palpates the radial pulse on the side to be tested. The examiner extends, abducts and externally rotate the patient’s arm. The patient is asked to take a deep breath and hold it. Then the patient is asked to extend their neck and rotate their head towards the side being tested.

Positive Test

Adson’s Test is considered positive if the examiner detects a significant decrease in strength, or complete disappearance, of the radial pulse.

Accuracy of Test

This test is not considered to be very accurate or reliable for determining thoracic outlet syndrome. The test is quite subjective.

Video Demonstration

video source: Physiotutors

>> Return to the list of Orthopedic Tests of the Shoulder

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