Thirty-six studies were included:
19 on radiculopathy (4 history, 844 patients; 8 physical examination, 3,476 patients),
9 on vertebral cancer or metastasis (3 history, 1,518 patients; 4 physical examination, 2,503 patients; 2 ESR, 1,421 patients), and
8 on ankylosing spondylitis (2 history, 587 patients; 3 physical examination, 1,128 patients; 1 ESR, 54 patients).
Only 19 studies scored at least 55 points (the mean quality score) out of a maximum of 100 in the quality assessment. Only accuracy data from these studies were presented.
Radiculopathy: no single test had a high sensitivity and high specificity.
Vertebral cancer: combined history and ESR had relatively high diagnostic accuracy.
Ankylosing spondylitis: getting out of bed at night and reduced lateral mobility seemed to be the only moderately accurate items.