The high incidence and diversity of factors attributed to the etiology of patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) makes the diagnosis of this problem somewhat complex and susceptible to misinterpretation. Currently, there is not a defined set of procedures considered as ideal to diagnose PFPS. To investigate the diagnostic accuracy of clinical and functional tests used to diagnose PFPS through a systematic review. We searched relevant studies in the databases Medline, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus and Embase. The QUADAS score was used to assess the methodological quality of the eligible studies. We analyzed data that indicated the diagnostic properties of tests, such as sensibility, specificity, positive (LR+) and negative (LR-) likelihood ratio, and predictive values. The search identified 16,169 potential studies and five studies met the eligibility criteria. The 5 studies analyzed 25 tests intending to accurately diagnose PFPS. Two tests were analyzed in two studies and were possible to perform a meta-analysis. Within the five studies included, one study had high methodological quality, two studies had good methodological quality and two studies had low methodological quality. Two tests, the patellar tilt (LR+ = 5.4 and LR- = 0.6) and squatting (LR+ = 1.8 and LR- = 0.2), had values that show a trend for the diagnosis of PFPS (LR+ >5.0 and LR- <0.2), however their values do not represent clear evidence regarding diagnostic properties as suggested in the literature (LR+ >10 and LR- <0.1). Future diagnostic studies should focus on the sample homogeneity and standardization of tests analyzed so future systematic reviews can determine with more certainty the accuracy of the tests for diagnosis of PFPS.
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