Thompson’s test is used as one method of determining if a patient has a ruptured Achilles tendon. The test is usually performed by an orthopaedic surgeon or a physiotherapist.
As a paramedic it is unlikely that you would routinely perform a Thompson’s test with a patient who has injured their ankle or damaged the tendon of the lower leg. However, if you have a patient who is still able to weight bear, and does not want to go to hospital, a Thompson’s test may provide an indication to the patient of the severity of the damage and importance of urgent orthopaedic assessment and treatment.
How do you perform a Thompson’s test?
A Thompson’s test can be performed by placing the patient in a prone position with the affected leg extended. Then squeeze the calf muscles to indirectly plantar flex the foot (in the healthy adult).
A positive Thompson test can be acknowledged if the foot does not plantar flex. A positive Thompson test helps confirm the diagnosis of a ruptured Achilles tendon, but is not definitive.