Recent Publication: The new dynamic isotonic manipulation examination (DIME) is a highly sensitive secondary screening tool for supraspinatus full-thickness tears

Background: Traditional shoulder physical examination (PE) tests have suboptimal sensitivity for detection of supraspinatus full-thickness tears (FTTs). Therefore, clinicians may continue to suspect FTTs in some patients with negative rotator cuff PE tests and turn to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for definitive diagnosis. Consequently, there is a need for a secondary screening test that can accurately rule out FTTs in these patients to better inform clinicians which patients should undergo MRI. The purpose of this study was to assess the ability of 2 new dynamic PE tests to detect supraspinatus pathology in patients for whom traditional static PE tests failed to detect pathology.

Methods: We prospectively enrolled 171 patients with suspected rotator cuff pathology with negative findings on traditional rotator cuff PE, who underwent 2 new dynamic PE tests: first, measurement of angle at which the patient first reports pain on unopposed active abduction and, second, the dynamic isotonic manipulation examination (DIME). Patients then underwent shoulder magnetic resonance arthrogram. Data from the new PE maneuvers were compared with outcomes collected from magnetic resonance arthrogram reports.

Results: Pain during DIME testing had a sensitivity of 96.3% and 92.6% and a negative predictive value of 96.2% and 94.9% in the coronal and scapular planes, respectively. DIME strength ≤86.0 N had a sensitivity of 100% and 96.3% and a negative predictive value of 100% and 95.7% in the coronal and scapular planes, respectively. Pain at ≤90° on unopposed active abduction in the coronal plane had a specificity of 100% and a positive predictive value of 100% for supraspinatus pathology of any kind (ie, tendinopathy, “fraying,” or tearing).

Conclusions: DIME is highly sensitive for supraspinatus FTTs in patients with negative traditional rotator cuff PE tests for whom there is still high clinical suspicion of FTTs. Thus, this test is an excellent secondary screening tool for supraspinatus FTTs in patients for whom clinicians suspect rotator cuff pathology despite negative traditional static PE tests. Given its high sensitivity, a negative DIME test rules out supraspinatus FTT well in these patients, and can therefore better inform clinicians which patients should undergo MRI. In addition, the angle at which patients first report pain on unopposed active shoulder abduction is highly specific for supraspinatus pathology.

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Abraham PF, Nazal MR, Varady N, Gillinov SM, Quinlan NJ, Alpaugh K, Martin SD. The Novel Dynamic Isotonic Manipulation Examination (DIME) is a Highly-Sensitive Secondary Screening Tool for Supraspinatus Full-Thickness Tears. [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 7]. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2020 Nov 1; 29(11): 2213-2220.