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Imaging tests are commonly used as an initial or early investigation for patients presenting with suspected acute gastrointestinal bleeding (AGIB). However, controversy remains regarding which of two frequently used modalities, computed tomography angiography (CTA) or technetium-99m labelled red blood cell scintigraphy (RBCS), is most accurate. This systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to compare the accuracy of CTA and RBCS for the detection and localization of AGIB. Five electronic databases were searched with additional manual searching of reference lists of relevant publications identified during the search. Two reviewers independently performed screening, data extraction and methodological assessments. Where appropriate, the bivariate model was used for meta-analysis of sensitivities and specificities for the detection of bleeding and Freeman-Tukey double-arcsine transformation used for meta-analysis of proportions of correctly localized bleeding sites. Forty-four unique primary studies were included: twenty-two investigating CTA, seventeen investigating RBCS and five investigating both modalities. Meta-analysis produced similar pooled sensitivities; 0.83 (95% CI 0.74-0.90) and 0.84 (0.68-0.92) for CTA and RBCS respectively. Pooled specificity for CTA was higher than RBCS; 0.90 (0.72-0.97) and 0.84 (0.71-0.91) respectively. However, differences were not statistically significant. CTA was superior to RBCS in correctly localizing bleeding; pooled proportions of 1.00 (0.98-1.00) and 0.90 (0.83-0.96) respectively (statistically significant difference, P < 0.001). There is no evidence that CTA and RBCS have different diagnostic performance with respect to the detection of AGIB. However, CTA is superior to RBCS in terms of correctly localising the bleeding site, supporting usage of CTA over RBCS as the first line imaging investigation.

Original publication




Journal article


Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology

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