Diagnostic accuracy of point-of-care knee ultrasound for evaluation of meniscus and collateral ligaments pathology in comparison with MRI

Acta Radiol. 2021 Dec 1;2841851211058280. doi: 10.1177/02841851211058280. Online ahead of print.


Background: Although magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often the "gold standard" for diagnosing knee problems, it has many limitations. Therefore, ultrasonography has been suggested as an effective rapid alternative in many knee abnormalities, especially after injuries of the meniscus and collateral ligaments.

Purpose: To determine the diagnostic accuracy of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in detecting injuries of the meniscus and collateral ligament compared to MRI.

Material and methods: An observational cross-sectional blinded study was conducted of 60 patients with clinically suspicious meniscus and collateral ligament injuries who were planned for an arthroscopy and or operative procedure. These patients underwent both blinded POCUS and MRI of the knees before the intervention procedure and results of both imaging modalities were compared according to the operative and arthroscopic findings.

Results: The preoperative reliability of POCUS compared to MRI for the assessment of meniscus injuries was sensitivity (92.9% vs. 90.5%), specificity (88.9% vs. 83.3%), positive predictive value (PPV; 95.1% vs. 92.7%), negative predictive value (NPV; 84.2% vs. 79%), and overall accuracy (91.7% vs. 88.3%). However, for diagnosing collateral ligament injures, POCUS versus MRI assessed sensitivity (92.3% vs. 88.5%), specificity (100% vs. 97.1%), PPV (100% vs. 95.8%), NPV (94.4% vs. 91.7%), and overall accuracy (96.7% vs. 93.3%).

Conclusion: Ultrasonography is a useful screening tool for the initial diagnosis of meniscal and collateral ligament pathology compared to or even with potential advantages over MRI, especially when MRI is unavailable or contraindicated. As newly advanced portable ultrasonography becomes available, it could be considered as a point-of-injury diagnostic modality.

Keywords: Point of care ultrasonography; arthroscopy; knee collaterals; knee meniscus; magnetic resonance imaging.