The anterior drawer test is often used to test for the integrity of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). The ACL primarily functions as a stabilizer of the knee joint, preventing anterior translation of the shin bone. It also has a proprioceptive function due to the mechanoreceptors found in the ligament. 🙃
The ACL is often injured or torn during non-contact events involving a sudden deceleration of the knee with the foot planted onto the ground. This can occur during sports involving pivoting or cutting actions such as soccer. ⚽️
To test, the patient or client lies down with the knee bent. The examiner grasps the proximal shin, just below the knee joint line, and attempts to translate the shin anteriorly. The test is considered positive if there is a lack of end feel or excessive anterior translation relative to the opposite side.
Our test subject here had recent ACL reconstruction following an injury on his left leg. He was 6 weeks post-op and we wished to check the integrity of his graft. Although there was some translation in the operated leg, it is not significantly more lax than the non-operated leg. There was also a firm end feel, indicating the graft was still intact.✅
Do note however, although it is convenient and used widely in the clinical setting, the anterior drawer test is not the most accurate in ruling in or ruling out an ACL tear or injury.
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1.📝 Makhmalbaf, H., Moradi, A., Ganji, S., & Omidi-Kashani, F. (2013). Accuracy of lachman and anterior drawer tests for anterior cruciate ligament injuries. The archives of bone and joint surgery, 1(2), 94–97.
2.📝 Physiopedia. 2021. Anterior Drawer Test of the Knee. [online] Available at:
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