Patellar Apprehension Test

Indications:

The Patellar Apprehension Test is used primarily to diagnosis lateral patellar instability. A positive test can also obtained from patella tracking disorders as well as patellofemoral joint dysfunction.

Procedure

  1. Patient supine with legs straight and quadriceps muscles relaxed
  2. Examiner gently and slowly pushes the patella laterally
  3. Examiner observes the patient for signs of verbal and nonverbal apprehension or reflex quadriceps contraction
Patellar Apprehension Test for the diagnosis of lateral patellar instability.

Examiner gently and slowly pushes the patella laterally and observes the patient for signs of verbal and nonverbal apprehension or reflex quadriceps contraction.

Interpretation

Positive Patellar Apprehension Test

Apprehension or reflex quadriceps muscle contraction: Patellar instability, subluxation, tracking disorder, patellofemoral dysfunction

Clinical Notes

Synonym: Fairbank’s Test
Some clinicians suggest having the knee flexed 30 degrees during this maneuver; with the knee flexed, the patella is much more stable in the patellar groove of the femur (increasing of a false negative), testing with leg straight increases the clinically validity of the test.