Adson’s test is used to examine for neurovasular compression (thoracic outlet syndrome, TOS), caused by a cervical rib or anterior scalene muscle syndrome.


  1. Patient seated, examiner palpates radial pulse bilaterally.
  2. Patient is then instructed to rotate head to affected side.
Adson's Test used to diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)

Examiner palpates radial pulse bilaterally and asks patient to rotate head to affected side.


Patient may be instructed to take a deep breath and hold it after the head is rotated to help apply further pressure to the brachial plexus nerve roots and subclavian artery.


Positive Adson’s Test

    Decrease or loss of pulse: neurovasular compression (TOS) from a cervical rib, anterior scalene muscle syndrome.