Purpose: Cervical radiculopathy (CR) is a common diagnosis. It is unclear if intervention studies use uniform definitions and criteria for patient selection. Our objective was to assess the uniformity of diagnostic criteria and definitions used in intervention studies to select patients with CR. Methods: We electronically searched the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL. Studies were included when evaluating conservative interventions in randomised clinical trials (RCTs) in patients with CR. Selection criteria and definitions for patients with CR were extracted and evaluated on their uniformity. Results: Thirteen RCTs were included. Pain was used as an inclusion criterion in 11 studies. Inclusion based on the duration and location of pain varied between studies. Five studies used sensory symptoms in the arm as inclusion criterion. Four studies used cervical range of motion and motor disturbances as inclusion criteria, while reflex changes were used in two studies. Three studies included patients with a positive Spurling's test and two studies used it within a cluster of provocation tests. Conclusions: Criteria used to select patients with CR vary widely between different intervention studies. Selection criteria and test methods used are poorly described. There is consensus on the presence of pain, but not on the exact location of pain.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Cervical radiculopathy, Definition, Diagnostic labelling, Review
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-012-2297-9, hdl.handle.net/1765/63595
Journal European Spine Journal
Citation
Thoomes, E.J, Scholten-Peeters, G.G.M, de Boer, A.J, Olsthoorn, R.A, Verkerk, K, Lin, C.-W.C, & Verhagen, A.P. (2012). Lack of uniform diagnostic criteria for cervical radiculopathy in conservative intervention studies: A systematic review. European Spine Journal (Vol. 21, pp. 1459–1470). doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2297-9