Background: There is a number of physical examination maneuvers used to diagnose hip pathology but the diagnostic validity of these maneuvers is unclear. We conducted a systematic review to evaluate current knowledge regarding the diagnostic validity of the physical examination maneuvers for hip pathology.
Methods: We conducted a literature search of the electronic databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane, and SPORTDiscus. The methodological quality of each eligible study was assessed and classified according to Sackett and Haynes’ phases of diagnostic research, whereby Phase I and II studies represent proof of concept and Phase III studies are applicable to a clinical setting.
Results: Eight studies were classified as phase III diagnostic studies, four of which were methodologically rigorous. In diagnosing labral tears of the hip, neither the impingement test (sensitivity=0.51-0.78, specificity=0.10-0.89) nor FABER test (sensitivity=0.60, specificity=0.75) demonstrated evidence to support the use of these tests clinically. In diagnosing gluteal tendon pathology the Trendelenburg test demonstrated some evidence for use in a clinical setting (sensitivity=0.23-0.73, specificity=0.77-0.94).
Conclusion: The diagnostic validity of clinical tests to diagnose the presence or absence of hip pathology remains uncertain. The majority of studies supporting validity of these tests lacked methodological rigor, and thus cannot provide evidence to support the use of a test in clinical practice.