OBJECTIVE: The (Pacific) Consortium for Chiropractic Research has taken the initiative to research, investigate and provide information directed toward health care accountability, including evaluation of health care measures and practices. This article is a review of the literature pertaining to leg length inequality (LLI). Leg length measures are utilized by various health care providers as an indicator of biomechanical imbalance and necessity for care. Following the overview of the incidence, classifications and clinical significance, emphasis was placed on methods of evaluation, especially the visual "quick" leg length measurement procedure. Finally, a brief section on conservative care has been provided.
DATA SOURCES: The information and studies reviewed were obtained from Medline, the Index to Chiropractic Literature, Chiropractic Research Archives Collection, Physiotherapy Index, Chiropractic Literature Analysis and Retrieval System, various technique manuals, personal communication with technique research advisors, proceedings and dissertations. REFERENCE SELECTION: In spite of the widespread use of leg length measures, there is still much controversy associated with LLI, its biomechanical significance and the reliability of the various measurement systems employed. Therefore, the 182 references utilized were selected on the basis of applicable information, especially studies that provided a detailed methodological design with statistical analysis regarding evaluation procedures.
CONCLUSION: There appears to be a lack of agreement concerning incidence, classification and point of clinical significance. However, the manifestations or consequences of LLI demonstrate greater accordance. Of the three most commonly utilized evaluation methods, radiographic measures such as the scanograms are recognized as the most reliable procedure for the evaluation of anatomical LLI. Much controversy exists with some of the clinical orthopedic methods and the visual "quick" leg check. Because there is such a vast range in estimates of reliability, few if any definitive conclusions can be made regarding these methods. Given this, it is evident that more research is needed before the use of certain orthopedic and visual checks are considered reliable and valid.
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