Brachial Plexus Compression Test

Original Editor - Joseph Ayotunde Aderonmu

Top Contributors - Joseph Ayotunde Aderonmu and Shaimaa Eldib

Purpose[edit | edit source]

The Brachial Plexus Compression Test, also called the Morley's Compression Test is used for the assessment of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome which produces tenderness at the root of the neck when pressure is placed over the neurovascular (the brachial plexus and the subclavian vessels) structures in the area of the supraclavicular fossa. [1]

Spaces of the thoracic outlet.png

Technique[edit | edit source]

To perform the Brachial Plexus Compression Test, the patient is seated upright with the arms beside the body. The examiner then compresses the supraclavicular fossa for a duration of thirty seconds.[1]

Positive Result[edit | edit source]

The test is said to be positive when there is a reproduction of an aching sensation and typical localized paraesthesia and not only the presence of tenderness of the area.[1] Also, there could be a palpable hard mass in the area of the supraclavicular fossa compressed. This may represent a true structural lesion that can create a venous or neurological Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.[2] It is essential that the mass is examined to rule out a more significant pathology.

Negative Result[edit | edit source]

No symptoms would be reproduced.

Instructional Video[edit | edit source]

Sensitivity and Specificity[edit | edit source]

There is no information available for diagnosis accuracy and psychometric properties of the Brachial Plexus Compression Test.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The Brachial Plexus Compression Test is not sufficient enough to distinguish between patients with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and cervical radiculopathy, because the test is probably positive in both cases. Also, due to lack of information on its diagnosis accuracy, it is difficult to take objective stands on its clinical value.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Morley's compression test. Oxford Reference. Available at: Accessed: 10 Feb. 2021
  2. Julie Freischlag, Kristine Orion, "Understanding Thoracic Outlet Syndrome", Scientifica, vol. 2014, Article ID 248163, 6 pages, 2014.