Methods: A comprehensive search of the English and French language literature was conducted using a combination of subject headings and keywords. The quality of the citations was assessed using the Quality of diagnostic accuracy studies (QUADAS), the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE), and the Stroke Prevention and Educational Awareness Diffusion (SPREAD) evaluation tools. The Referral Guidelines for Imaging (radiation protection 118) coordinated by the European Commission served as the initial template. The first draft was sent for an external review. A Delphi panel composed of international experts on the topic of musculoskeletal disorders in chiropractic radiology, clinical sciences, and research was invited to review and propose recommendations on the indications for diagnostic imaging. The guidelines were pilot tested and peer-reviewed by practicing chiropractors and by chiropractic and medical specialists. Recommendations were graded according to the strength of the evidence. Dissemination and implementation strategies are discussed.
Results: Recommendations for diagnostic imaging guidelines of adult upper extremity disorders are provided, supported by over 126 primary and secondary citations. The overall quality of available literature is low, however. On average, 44 Delphi panelists completed 1 of 2 rounds, reaching over 88% agreement on all 32 recommendations. Peer review by specialists reflected high levels of agreement and perceived ease of use of guidelines and implementation feasibility.
Conclusions: The guidelines are intended to be used in conjunction with sound clinical judgment and experience and should be updated regularly. Future research is needed to validate their content.
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