Knee Orthopaedic Test: Sweep Test

orthopaedic tests May 29, 2023

The sweep test is a physical examination technique used to assess for joint effusion, or swelling, in the knee joint. Here are the steps to perform the sweep test:

1. Have the patient lie down on their back on the examination table with their legs straight.
2. Place one hand on the patient's knee and the other hand on the patient's ankle.
3. Apply pressure to the medial side of the knee with your hand on the knee, as if you were trying to push fluid out of the joint.
4. While maintaining pressure on the medial side, sweep your other hand up and down the lateral side of the knee, as if you were trying to move any fluid to the medial side.
5. Repeat the test with pressure applied to the lateral side of the knee and sweeping on the medial side.

If the patient experiences pain or discomfort during the test, or if there is a bulge or wave of fluid on the medial or lateral side of the knee, this may indicate joint effusion. However, it is important to note that the sweep test should be used in conjunction with other examination techniques.



  1. Magee, D. J. (2014). Orthopedic physical assessment. Elsevier Health Sciences.
  2. Dutton, M. (2012). Orthopaedic examination, evaluation, and intervention. McGraw-Hill Medical.
  3. Maricar, Nasimah, et al. "Clinical assessment of effusion in knee osteoarthritis—A systematic review." Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism. Vol. 45. No. 5. WB Saunders, 2016.

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