Author(s): Lauder TD, Dillingham TR, Andary M, Kumar S, Pezzin LE,
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To determine the effectiveness of medical history and physical examination in predicting electrodiagnostic outcome in patients with suspected cervical radiculopathy. METHODS: Data on 183 subjects prospectively collected at five different electrodiagnostic laboratories were analyzed (96 cervical radiculopathies, 45 normal studies, and 42 abnormal electrodiagnostic findings other than radiculopathy). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and odds ratios were determined for symptoms and neurologic signs. RESULTS: Symptoms of numbness, weakness, and tingling were associated with twice the probability of having abnormal electrodiagnostic study results in general, yet were not helpful in identifying a cervical radiculopathy. All single and combined physical examination components had poor sensitivities, with the exception of weakness, but much higher specificities. Patients with either weakness or reduced reflexes on physical examination were up to five times more likely to have abnormal electrodiagnostic findings. In subjects with any abnormal neurologic sign, the sensitivity improved to 84\%, the positive predictive value was 79\%, but the specificity was low (44\%). Of those subjects with normal physical examination results, almost one half had an abnormal electrodiagnostic study result (negative predictive value 52\%). CONCLUSIONS: In a population of patients with suspected cervical radiculopathy, medical history and physical examination are helpful yet not sufficient to predict the electrodiagnostic outcome.
This article was published in Arch Phys Med Rehabil
and referenced in Journal of Novel Physiotherapies