Spatula Test

The spatula test is a simple diagnostic test. Touching the oropharynx with a spatula in normal patients elicits a gag reflex and efforts to expel the spatula; a negative result.

If tetanus is present, reflex spasm of the masseters occurs, and the patient bites the spatula; a positive result.

In 400 patients, this test had a sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 100%, with no adverse effects [11].

Learning bite

The spatula test is very specific and highly sensitive for the diagnosis of tetanus.