Evidence-Based Diagnostic Test Accuracy of History, Physical Examination, and Imaging for Intussusception: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2022 Jan 1;38(1):e225-e230. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002224.


Introduction: Intussusception is the most common cause of pediatric small bowel obstruction. Timely and accurate diagnosis may reduce the risk of bowel ischemia. We quantified the diagnostic test accuracy of history, physical examination, abdominal radiographs, and point-of-care ultrasound.

Method: We conducted a systematic review for diagnostic test accuracy of history, physical examination, and imaging concerning for intussusception. Our literature search was completed in June 2019. Databases included Medline via Ovid, Embase, Scopus, and Wiley Cochrane Library. We conducted a second review of the literature up to June 2019 for any additional studies. Inclusion criteria were younger than 18 years and presenting to the emergency department for abdominal complaints, consistent with intussusception. We performed data analysis using mada, version 0.5.8. We conducted univariate and bivariate analysis (random effects model) with DerSimonian-Laird and Reitsma model, respectively. QUADAS-2 was used for bias assessment.

Results: The literature search identified 2639 articles, of which 13 primary studies met our inclusion criteria. Abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody stools had positive likelihood ratios LR(+) between 1 and 2, whereas the negative likelihood ratio, LR(-), ranged between 0.4 and 0.8. Abnormal abdominal radiograph had LR(+) of 2.5 and LR(-) of 0.20, whereas its diagnostic odds ratio was 13. Lastly, point-of-care ultrasound had LR(+) of 19.7 and LR(-) of 0.10. The diagnostic odds ratio was 213.

Conclusions: History and physical examination had low diagnostic test accuracy. Abdominal radiographs had low diagnostic test accuracy, despite moderate discriminatory characteristics. Point-of-care ultrasound had the highest diagnostic test accuracy to rule in or rule out intussusception.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Humans
  • Intussusception* / diagnostic imaging
  • Physical Examination
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography