ACR Appropriateness Criteria ® Suspected Osteomyelitis, Septic Arthritis, or Soft Tissue Infection (Excluding Spine and Diabetic Foot).
Infection of the musculoskeletal system is a common clinical problem. Differentiating soft tissue from osseous infection often determines the appropriate clinical therapeutic course. Radiographs are the recommend initial imaging examination, and although often not diagnostic in acute osteomyelitis, can provide anatomic evaluation and alternative diagnoses influencing subsequent imaging selection and interpretation. MRI with contrast is the examination of choice for the evaluation of suspected osteomyelitis, and MRI, CT, and ultrasound can all be useful in the diagnosis of soft tissue infection. CT or a labeled leukocyte scan and sulfur colloid marrow scan combination are alternative options if MRI is contraindicated or extensive artifact from metal is present. The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed annually by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and revision include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer reviewed journals and the application of well-established methodologies (RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation or GRADE) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures for specific clinical scenarios. In those instances where evidence is lacking or equivocal, expert opinion may supplement the available evidence to recommend imaging or treatment.
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