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Diagnostic accuracy of clinical tests of the hip: a systematic review with meta-analysis


Background Hip Physical Examination (HPE) tests have long been used to diagnose a myriad of intra-and extra-articular pathologies of the hip joint. Useful clinical utility is necessary to support diagnostic imaging and subsequent surgical decision making.

Objective Summarise and evaluate the current research and utility on the diagnostic accuracy of HPE tests for the hip joint germane to sports related injuries and pathology.

Methods A computer-assisted literature search of MEDLINE, CINHAL and EMBASE databases (January 1966 to January 2012) using keywords related to diagnostic accuracy of the hip joint. This systematic review with meta-analysis utilised the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines for the search and reporting phases of the study. Der-Simonian and Laird random effects models were used to summarise sensitivities (SN), specificities (SP), likelihood ratios and diagnostic OR.

Results The employed search strategy revealed 25 potential articles, with 10 demonstrating high quality. Fourteen articles qualified for meta-analysis. The meta-analysis demonstrated that most tests possess weak diagnostic properties with the exception of the patellar-pubic percussion test, which had excellent pooled SN 95 (95% CI 92 to 97%) and good specificity 86 (95% CI 78 to 92%).

Conclusion Several studies have investigated pathology in the hip. Few of the current studies are of substantial quality to dictate clinical decision-making. Currently, only the patellar-pubic percussion test is supported by the data as a stand-alone HPE test. Further studies involving high quality designs are needed to fully assess the value of HPE tests for patients with intra- and extra-articular hip dysfunction.

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