The patellar apprehension test is performed to confirm the doctor's suspicion that a patient has experienced previous patellar instability, such as patellar subluxation or dislocation.

patellar apprehension test
The patellar apprehension test is positive if the patient resists the surgeon's manoeuvre.


How to perform the patellar apprehension test

The patient lies face up on an examination couch, with the surgeon perced on the lower end, holding the patient's ankle with the foot off the couch and the knee flexed to 45 degrees. With the other hand the surgeon holds the patella between finger and thumb and, using moderate force, tries to push it laterally out of the groove of the underlying femur. A positive test is when the patient puts out a hand to stop this movement.

Fairbank's sign

Examination in cases of patellofemoral pain

Part 5b of a course on Patellofemoral Pain by Dr Ronald Grelsamer of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.



Examination of the patellofemoral joint. Manske RC. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016 Dec; 11(6): 831–853.

The moving patellar apprehension test for lateral patellar instability. Ahmad CS, McCarthy M, Gomez JA and Shubin Stein BE. Am J Sports Med. 2009 Apr;37(4):791-6. doi: 10.1177/0363546508328113. Epub 2009 Feb 3.

See also -

eBook - Factors contributing to an Unstable Patella

This eBook discusses those anatomical factors that underlying patellar subluxation or dislocation.