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Lateral Compression Test

Examination type Bony integrity; joint stability
Patient & Body Segment Positioning

Standing in an anatomical position

Lying on lateral trunk side

Supine with legs flat and arms by sides

Short Sitting in an upright position

Examiner Position With patient standing or sitting, examiner should stand behind patient with one hand on each side of the patientís lateral trunk (each side of the rib cage).  With the patient lying supine, examiner should stand beside the patient with one hand on each side of the patientís lateral trunk (each side of the rib cage). With the patient lying on his side, examiner should stand beside the patient with both hands on the patientís lateral trunk (side of the rib cage) that is up.
Tissues Being Tested Ribs and costal cartilage
Performing the Test With patient standing, sitting, or lying supine, use both hands to compress the lateral sides of the rib cage inward towards the sternum. With the patient lying on their side, use both hands on the lateral side of the rib cage that is facing upward to compress the ribcage towards the table.
Positive Test Positive if pain or guarding is elicited.
Interpretation Positive test indicated possible rib fracture.
Common errors in performing exam Not compressing with enough force; not asking about location and type of pain if elicited; not examining in all possible positions
Factors possibly resulting in misinterpretation Localized pain may indicate a rib fracture, but diffuse pain may be indicative of something else.
Related tests Anterior/Posterior Chest Compressions
References Magee. Orthopedic Physical Assessment. 4th Ed. 2002.
Links: http://www.ncemi.org/cse/cse0502.htm
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