Magnetic resonance imaging for detecting root avulsions in traumatic adult brachial plexus injuries: protocol for a systematic review of diagnostic accuracy.
Wade RG., Takwoingi Y., Wormald JCR., Ridgway JP., Tanner S., Rankine JJ., Bourke G.
BACKGROUND: Adult brachial plexus injuries (BPI) are becoming more common. The reconstruction and prognosis of pre-ganglionic injuries (root avulsions) are different to other types of BPI injury. Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is being used to identify root avulsions, but the evidence from studies of its diagnostic accuracy are conflicting. Therefore, a systematic review is needed to address uncertainty about the accuracy of MRI and to guide future research. METHODS: We will conduct a systematic search of electronic databases alongside reference tracking. We will include studies of adults with traumatic BPI which report the accuracy of preoperative MRI (index test) against surgical exploration of the roots of the brachial plexus (reference standard) for detecting either of the two target conditions (any root avulsion or any pseudomeningocoele as a surrogate marker of root avulsion). We will exclude case reports, articles considering bilateral injuries and studies where the number of true positives, false positives, false negatives and true negatives cannot be derived. The methodological quality of the included studies will be assessed using a tailored version of the QUADAS-2 tool. Where possible, a bivariate model will be used for meta-analysis to obtain summary sensitivities and specificities for both target conditions. We will investigate heterogeneity in the performance of MRI according to field strength and the risk of bias if data permits. DISCUSSION: This review will summarise the current diagnostic accuracy of MRI for adult BPI, identify shortcomings and gaps in the literature and so help to guide future research. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42016049702 .