New diagnostic tests for the evaluation of patients with low back pain are constantly emerging, but are often not completely evaluated before they become used. Many published studies have a number of biases that tend to exaggerate the estimated accuracy of a diagnostic test. Several key study design features should be considered in such studies: independent comparison of the diagnostic test results with an appropriate "gold standard"; blinded assessment of the new test and the gold standard or competing tests; the reproducibility of interpretation of the test being examined; and the sensitivity and specificity of the test for the final gold standard diagnosis. In addition, evaluations of test accuracy should include patients with a wide spectrum of illness from mild to severe, and the study setting and patient characteristics should be described in detail.Finally, the contribution of a diagnostic test to the overall validity of a full group or sequence of tests should be considered, and, ideally, the effect of the test on actual patient outcomes should be determined.
- Diagnostic tests
- Imaging studies
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Clinical Neurology