Musculoskeletal diagnostic ultrasound imaging (MSK-DUSI) has been growing outside the traditional radiology speciality. Increased use of this technology has been reported in several healthcare settings, however an apparent gap in the knowledge of the accuracy of this diagnostic technology indicated a review was warranted. We undertook a structured review of the literature to assess the accuracy of MSK-DUSI for the diagnosis of musculoskeletal soft tissue pathology of the extremities. An electronic search of the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database (1972 to mid-2014) was conducted. All relevant systematic reviews of diagnostic studies, all diagnostic studies published after the date of the latest systematic reviews and relevant diagnostic studies outside the scope the systematic reviews that directly compared the accuracy of MSK-DUSI (the index test) to an appropriate reference standard for the target condition were included. A fundamental appraisal of the methodological quality of studies was completed. The individual sensitivity, specificity and likelihood ratio data were extracted and entered into diagnostic accuracy tables. A total of 207 individual studies were included. The results show that MSK-DUSI has acceptable diagnostic accuracy for a wide spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions of the extremities. However, there is a lack of high quality prospective experimental studies in this area and as such clinicians should interpret the results with some caution due to the potential for overestimation of diagnostic accuracy.
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