INTRODUCTION: Total hip arthroplasty (THA) is one of the most frequently performed procedures in orthopaedics and weakness of external rotators is often recognized thereafter. However, the etiology of lateral hip pain is multifaceted. For the diagnosis of abductor tendon rupture, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the gold standard. As not every patient can be subjected to MRI, a clinical diagnostic test for easy detection of lesions of the abductor tendon is missing. Here, we present the internal rotation lack sign indicating abductor tendon pathology.
METHODS: The patient is placed in lateral position on a stretcher with hips and knees in neutral position. The knee is flexed to 45° and the hip passively abducted and elevated by the investigator. With the foot passively abducted, the patient is then asked to bring his knee in direction to the examination table. This motion is also tested passively. The test is regarded positive, if no internal rotation is possible and/or if this is painful. If groin pain is elicited during either of the exercises, the test is also rated positive.
RESULTS: We evaluated this test in 20 patients clinically and by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All patients demonstrated a positive internal rotation lag sign. Twelve of them lag of internal rotation and evidence of anterior abductor tendon rupture on MRI, 8 with lag of internal rotation and no evidence of abductor tendon rupture.
CONCLUSION: The new clinical diagnostic sign presented here may improve the diagnosis of abductor tendon rupture in the future.Level of Evidence: Diagnostic study, level I.