Objective: Among the causes of limping gait in children, septic arthritis (SA) and transient synovitis (TS) are the 2 most likely etiologies. The aim of this study was to determine the medical histories, physical examinations, and other studies to use to create a clinical guideline for differential diagnosis between SA and TS in children in the emergency department (ED). The pediatric orthopedic emergency committee of our institution addressed the issue of developing a guideline for differential diagnosis.
Methods: Two rounds of the modified Delphi survey were conducted, and a face-to-face committee meeting was held after each survey round. Delphi survey panelists included 10 pediatric orthopedic surgeons and 8 emergency physicians including 3 pediatric emergency physicians.
Results: Response rates were 100% in each round. The panelists used a 6-point Likert scale to rate the clinical diagnostic guideline contents as having high (5 or 6), moderate (3 or 4), or low importance (1 or 2). Twenty-eight questionnaire items were included in the first round; and 18 items, in the second round. Factors for concern were selected, and a flowchart of the diagnostic guideline development process was based on the results of the survey.
Conclusion: A diagnostic guideline for evaluating SA and TS in children in the ED was achieved using combined empirical evidence together with expert opinion, potentially resulting in a diagnostic strategy to be incorporated into existing guidelines or used on its own.
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