Diagnostic accuracy of clinical tests for sciatic nerve entrapment in the gluteal region



The purpose of this study was to determine the diagnostic accuracy of the straight leg raise (SLR), active piriformis, and seated piriformis stretch tests in identifying individuals with sciatic nerve entrapment.


Thirty-three individuals (female = 25 and male = 8) with a mean age of 43 years (range 15–64; SD ± 11 years) were included in the study. Twenty-three subjects had endoscopic findings of sciatic nerve entrapment. Ten subjects without entrapment during endoscopic assessment were used as a control group. The results of the SLR, active piriformis, and seated piriformis stretch tests were retrospectively reviewed for each subject and compared between both groups. The accuracy of these tests for the endoscopic finding of sciatic nerve entrapment was determined by calculating the sensitivity, specificity, positive likelihood ratio, negative likelihood ratio, and diagnostic odds ratio.


The SLR had sensitivity of 0.15, specificity of 0.95, positive likelihood ratio of 3.20, negative likelihood ratio of 0.90, and diagnostic odds ratio of 3.59. The active piriformis test had sensitivity of 0.78, specificity of 0.80, positive likelihood ratio of 3.90, negative likelihood ratio of 0.27, and diagnostic odds ratio of 14.40. The seated piriformis stretch test had sensitivity of 0.52, specificity of 0.90, positive likelihood ratio of 5.22, negative likelihood ratio of 0.53, and diagnostic odds ratio of 9.82. The most accurate findings were obtained when the results of the active piriformis test and seated piriformis stretch test were combined, with sensitivity of 0.91, specificity of 0.80, positive likelihood ratio of 4.57, negative likelihood ratio of 0.11, and diagnostic odds ratio of 42.00.


The active piriformis and seated piriformis stretch tests can be used to help identify patients with and without sciatic nerve entrapment in the deep gluteal region.

Level of evidence


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The authors disclose no financial support to complete this research project. The Institutional Review Board of Duquesne University approved this research protocol.

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Correspondence to Benjamin R. Kivlan.

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Martin, H.D., Kivlan, B.R., Palmer, I.J. et al. Diagnostic accuracy of clinical tests for sciatic nerve entrapment in the gluteal region. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 22, 882–888 (2014) doi:10.1007/s00167-013-2758-7

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  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity
  • Sciatica