Smooth motion of the scapula and humerus with respect to the thorax is essential for shoulder function and abnormalities may indicate clinical entities. Recent studies have made an attempt to devise simple, practical means of quantifying scapular position. The aim of this study was to examine the intra-tester and inter-tester reliability of two methods and to determine if significant differences existed between the dominant versus non-dominant extremity. Seventeen healthy volunteers (4 M; 13 F) were examined by two testers. The tape measurements consisted of the classic methods of Kibler and DiVeta in three sitting postures, expanded by the measurement of the linear distance from the medial border to the thoracic mid-line, and the scapular size measure. The SAS software package was used for data analysis. The Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) intra-tester reliability ranged between 0.96-0.8 for both methods without significant differences, whereas the ICC for inter-tester reliability ranged between 0.42-0.9 with higher values (moderate and good) for the Kibler technique. In the additional tests high values were also obtained for ICC intra-tester, except for the measurements of the linear distance of the medial border of the scapula to the thoracic mid-line and the distance of the inferior process of the acromion to the third vertebra, both in 90 degrees abduction and internal rotation. The ICC for inter-tester was only acceptable for the DiVeta measurement on 45 degrees abduction. Significant differences were noted between both testers on the following measures: Kibler in 45 degrees abduction, DiVeta in 45 degrees abduction and 90 degrees abduction and the scapular size measure. The comparison of dominant versus non-dominant extremity revealed larger but not significantly different means for the dominant extremity in the classic methods. Significant differences occurred for Tester 1 in the measurement of the distance of the medial border to the thoracic mid-line and Tester 2 in DiVita in 45 degrees abduction. The SEM values never exceeded 1 cm. We believe that the Kibler technique holds promise for further studies, has the advantage of measuring in three positions and with some familiarisation can be reliable. Further research is necessary in patients with pathological conditions.
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