Predictive Probability of a Rotator Cuff Tear

What Is It?

Murrell & Walton (2001), conducted a prospective study to determine the accuracy of clinical tests in the diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear. After assessing 400 subjects, they found that those who present with shoulder pain and have the following 3 positive diagnostic features are at a 98% chance of having a rotator cuff tear no matter their age.

3 Diagnostic Features:

  • Test positive for supraspinatus weakness on the empty can test
  • Weakness into external rotation
  • Positive impingement test

If only 2 or less of the diagnostic features are present, the probability of a rotator cuff changes depending on the patients age.

Our Thoughts:

With stats like this, it’s clear that these 3 special tests have huge diagnostic power when used together. For ease of implementation, ignitephysio created a handout, so print it and post it in your clinic as a reminder.



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