Examination of the superficial abdominal reflexes in patients thought to have idiopathic scoliosis has been considered possibly beneficial for deciding who should have magnetic resonance imaging to rule out syringomyelia. The purpose of this study was to determine what is normal for this examination. Thirty normal adolescents and 35 normal young adults underwent testing of the superficial abdominal reflexes and the patellar and Achilles deep tendon reflexes. Each test was repeated two times. Thirty-nine (60%) subjects had bilaterally equal abdominal reflexes. Nine (14%) subjects had asymmetric reflexes, and seven (11%) subjects had no reflex in at least one quadrant. No subjects had reflexes present on one side and absent on the other. Ten (15%) subjects had absence of the abdominal reflexes in all quadrants. Sixteen (25%) subjects had extinguishing of the reflex in at least one quadrant as the test was repeated. Eleven of these had asymmetric or partially absent reflexes initially. In contrast, the patellar and Achilles reflexes were more consistent. The patellar reflexes were bilaterally equal in 52 (85%), asymmetric in eight (13%), and absent in one (2%). The Achilles reflexes were bilaterally equal in 59 (97%), asymmetric in true (2%), and absent in one (2%). The finding of abdominal reflexes consistently present on one side and consistently absent on the other side did not occur in our normal subjects. This finding might warrant further workup if found in a patient with scoliosis. Other variations in abdominal reflex testing such as asymmetries, absent in some quadrants, and absent in all quadrants are fairly common in normal subjects.
- Abdominal reflexes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine