Diagnostic accuracy of premanipulative vertebrobasilar insufficiency tests: a systematic review

Nathan Hutting, Arianne P Verhagen, Veerle Vijverman, Martin D M Keesenberg, Gillian Dixon, Gwendolijne G M Scholten-Peeters

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


STUDY DESIGN: A systematic review of diagnostic accuracy studies.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of the premanipulative vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI) tests.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: The aim of premanipulative vertebrobasilar testing is to evaluate the adequacy of blood supply to the brain, by compressing the vertebral artery and examining for the onset of signs and symptoms of cerebrovascular ischemia. Although clinicians consider pre-manipulative testing important before applying spinal manipulations, the diagnostic accuracy has not been systematically reviewed.

METHODS: A search was made in PUBMED, CINAHL and EMBASE databases from their date of inception until 2nd May 2012. Studies were included if they compared a VBI test with a reference test, and sensitivity and specificity were reported or could be calculated. The methodological quality of the studies was evaluated using QUADAS. Agreement between reviewers was calculated and expressed as a percentage and quantified by kappa statistics.

RESULTS: Of the 1677 potential citations only 4 studies were included, all of questionable quality. Sensitivity was low and ranged from 0 to 57%, specificity from 67 to 100%, positive predictive value from 0% to 100%, and negative predictive value from 26 to 96%. The positive likelihood ratio ranged from 0.22 to 83.25 and the negative likelihood ratio from 0.44 to 1.40.

CONCLUSION: Based on this systematic review of only 4 studies it was not possible to draw firm conclusions about the diagnostic accuracy of premanipulative tests. However, data on diagnostic accuracy indicate that the premanipulative tests do not seem valid in the premanipulative screening procedure. A surplus value for premanipulative tests seems unlikely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-82
Number of pages6
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Brain
  • Humans
  • Manipulation, Spinal
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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