Diagnostic value of clinical cervical spine tests in patients with cervicogenic somatic tinnitus
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Physical therapy / American Physical Therapy Association. - Washington, D.C.
, p. 1529-1535
University of Antwerp
Background Tinnitus can be related to many different etiologies, such as hearing loss or a noise trauma, but it also can be related to the somatosensory system of the cervical spine. The diagnosis of cervicogenic somatic tinnitus (CST) is made when the predominant feature is the temporal coincidence of appearance or increase of both neck pain and tinnitus. Objective The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic value of clinical cervical spine tests in people with CST. Design A cross-sectional study was conducted. Setting The study was conducted at a tertiary referral center. Patients Consecutive adult patients with chronic subjective nonpulsatile tinnitus were included. Exclusion criteria were vertigo, Ménière disease, middle ear pathology, intracranial pathology, cervical spine surgery, whiplash trauma, and temporomandibular dysfunction. Measurements A full ear, nose, and throat examination was conducted to classify patients into CST and non-CST groups. The physical therapist examination included completion of the Neck Bournemouth Questionnaire (NBQ) and the following clinical cervical spine tests: manual rotation test, adapted Spurling test (AST), trigger point tests, and tests for strength and endurance of the deep neck flexors. Results Eighty-seven patients with tinnitus were included, of whom 37 (43%) were diagnosed with CST. The diagnosis of CST becomes less likely with NBQ scores of <14 points (sensitivity of 80%, likelihood ratio [LR] of 0.3, and posttest probability of 19%). Absence of trigger points corresponded to an LR of 0.3, a sensitivity of 82%, and a posttest probability of 22%. A positive manual rotation test and AST indicate a higher probability of CST (LR of 5, specificity of 90%, and posttest probability of 78%). Limitations A limited number of clinical cervical spine tests were used in this study. Although tests with good validity and reliability were included, additional tests could provide more information on cervical spine dysfunction in patients with CST. Conclusions Clinical cervical spine tests can support the diagnostic process for CST. An NBQ score of <14 points and the absence of trigger points can help to exclude CST. In contrast, a positive manual rotation test and AST can help to include CST. In future studies, these tests should be included in a multidisciplinary assessment of patients with suspected CST.