Diagnostic accuracy and clinical utility of thermography for lumbar radiculopathy a meta-analysis

Richard M. Hoffman, Daniel L. Kent, Richard A. Deyo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The role of thermography for diagnosing lumbar radiculopathy was evaluated by literature review and metaanalysis. From 81 relevant citations, 28 studies could be analyzed for diagnostic-accuracy data (sensitivity and specificity) and method. Diagnostic-accuracy data varied significantly between studies; therefore meaningful pooled summary statistics could not be reported. Twenty- seven studies had major methodologic flaws including biased test interpretations, faulty cohort assembly, poor clinical descriptions, and small sample size. The only study of reasonably high quality found no discriminant value for liquid-crystal thermography. The role of thermography remains unclear. Rigorous clinical research is required to establish its diagnostic accuracy and clinical utility. Thermography cannot be recommended currently for routine clinical use in evaluating low-back pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-628
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Lumbar radiculopathy
  • Meta-analysis
  • Sciatica
  • Technology assessment
  • Thermography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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