Context: The aldosterone to renin ratio (ARR) is the guideline-recommended screening test for primary aldosteronism. However, there are limited data in regard to the diagnostic performance of the ARR.
Objective: To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the ARR as a screening test for primary aldosteronism.
Methods: We searched the MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane databases until February 2020. Observational studies assessing ARR diagnostic performance as a screening test for primary aldosteronism were selected. To limit verification bias, only studies where dynamic confirmatory testing was implemented as a reference standard regardless of the ARR result were included. Study-level data were extracted and risk of bias and applicability were assessed using the QUADAS-2 tool.
Results: Ten studies, involving a total of 4110 participants, were included. Potential risk of bias related to patient selection was common and present in half of the included studies. The population base, ARR positivity threshold, laboratory assay, and reference standard for confirmatory testing varied substantially between studies. The reported ARR sensitivity and specificity varied widely with sensitivity ranging from 10% to 100% and specificity ranging from 70% to 100%. Notably, 3 of the 10 studies reported an ARR sensitivity of <50%, suggesting a limited ability of the ARR to adequately identify patients with primary aldosteronism.
Conclusions: ARR performance varied widely based on patient population and diagnostic criteria, especially with respect to sensitivity. Therefore, no single ARR threshold for interpretation could be recommended. Limitations in accuracy and reliability of the ARR must be recognized in order to appropriately inform clinical decision-making.
Keywords: ARR; Aldosterone to renin ratio; meta-analysis; primary aldosteronism; primary hyperaldosteronism; systematic review.
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