To assess the diagnostic accuracy of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in acute inflammation.
PubMed and Scopus were searched and eligible articles were screened for methodologic quality using the Quality Assessment of the Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-Revised. Meta-analysis with calculation of pooled sensitivity (Se), specificity (Sp), and summary area under the curve (SAUC) was performed.
Twenty-nine studies were eligible. Se and Sp were 0.78 and 0.68 (SAUC = 0.80) for ESR in orthopedic infections and 0.79 and 0.70 (SAUC = 0.81) for CRP. For the diagnosis of other various inflammatory conditions, CRP had a superior diagnostic accuracy, with a Se of 0.86, Sp of 0.67, and SAUC of 0.86 compared with a Se of 0.77, Sp of 0.59, and SAUC of 0.75 for ESR. Heterogeneity among studies was elevated. Combined use of ESR and CRP yielded higher diagnostic accuracy.
Despite observed heterogeneity among studies, ESR and CRP have a similar diagnostic accuracy in assessment of inflammation, especially in orthopedic conditions.