Chest Expansion test is a thoracic spine examination procedure that checks for reduction of costovertebral joint motion, ankylosing spondylitis and also for the assessment of respiratory conditions. 


Patient should be awake and cooperative for the Chest Expansion Test.

  1. Patient may sit or stand while the procedure is done.
  2. The patient takes a deep breath in and out.
  3.  The examiner checks chest expansion at the level of the 6th rib. He measures chest expansion at the maximum inspiration and at maximum expiration.
  4. The examiner checks for any abnormal joint motion.

The examiner measures chest expansion as the patient inhales and exhales.


Positive Chest Expansion Test

There is positive Chest Expansion Test when there is measurement difference of less than 2.5 cm or (1 inch). This indicates decreased costovertebral joint motion, ankylosing spondylitis and possible respiratory conditions that reduce chest expansion.

Clinical Notes

The normal range between inspiration and expiration is 5.8 – 7.6 cm (1.5-3 inches). Abnormal range for men is < 2.5 cm  (1 inch) and women < 1.9 cm (0.75 inches).