PURPOSE. To review systematically the sensitivity and specificity of optical coherence tomography (OCT) for diagnosing macular edema attributable to diabetic retinopathy compared with well-established gold standard tests such as fundus stereophotography or contact and noncontact fundus biomicroscopy. METHODS. Medline and Embase were searched electronically and six major ophthalmic journals from 1998 to 2006 were hand searched. Two reviewers independently assessed trial searches, studied quality with the QUADAS (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies) checklist, and extracted data. The target disease was clinically significant macular edema (CSME) according to Early Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) criteria. A bivariate model was used to obtain summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity and fit a summary receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. RESULTS. Fifteen studies were considered eligible. These studies were of good quality for most items of the QUADAS checklist, but most studies did not report masking of examiners and did not describe how withdrawals and undetermined results were treated. Seven studies included healthy control subjects, which could have artificially enhanced OCT diagnostic performance. All but one study included both eyes of the patients without taking into account the within-subject correlation in statistical analyses. Sensitivity and specificity data could be extracted from only 6 of 15 studies, because appropriate cross tabulations of index and reference tests were not reported by the others. In five of these studies, central retinal thickness cutoffs between 230 and 300 μm were adopted to define abnormal OCT results and considered the central type of CSME only, whereas in one study a complex algorithm accounting for extrafoveal CSME was used. The design of one study was case-control and was excluded from the meta-analysis. The expected operating point on the summary ROC, a pooled estimate of all studies, corresponded to a sensitivity of 0.79 (95% CI: 0.71-0.86), a specificity of 0.88 (95% CI: 0.80-0.93), a positive likelihood ratio of 6.5 (95% CI: 4.0-10.7), and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.24 (95% CI: 0.17-0.32). These values suggest a good overall performance of OCT for diagnosing CSME. CONCLUSIONS. OCT performs well compared with fundus stereophotography or biomicroscopy to diagnose diabetic macular edema. The quality of reporting of such studies should be improved, and authors should present cross tabulations of index and reference test results. Data adjusted for within-subject correlation should also be provided, although this issue represents a challenge for systematic reviewers.
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