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A systematic review showing the lack of diagnostic criteria and tools developed for lower limb cellulitis

Patel, M.; Lee, S. I.; Akyea, R. K.; Grindlay, D.; Francis, N.; Levell, N. J.; Smart, P.; Kai, J.; Thomas, K.S.


M. Patel

S. I. Lee

D. Grindlay

N. Francis

N. J. Levell

P. Smart


Background: Cellulitis can be a difficult diagnosis to make. 31% of patients admitted from the emergency department with suspected lower limb cellulitis are misdiagnoses, with incorrect treatment potentially resulting in avoidable hospital admission and antibiotic prescribing.

Objective: We sought to identify diagnostic criteria or tools that have been developed for lower limb cellulitis.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review using Ovid MEDLINE and Embase databases in May 2018, with the aim of describing diagnostic criteria and tools developed for lower limb cellulitis, and assessing the quality of the studies identified, using the QUADAS-2 tool. We included all types of study describing diagnostic criteria or tools.

Results: Eight observational studies were included. Five studies examined biochemical markers, two studies assessed imaging and one study developed a diagnostic decision model. All eight studies were high risk in at least one domain for bias.
Limitations: The quantity and quality of available data was low. Results could not be pooled due to the heterogeneity in findings.

Conclusion: There is a lack of high quality publications describing criteria or tools for diagnosing lower limb cellulitis. Future studies using prospective designs and validated in both primary and secondary care settings are needed.


Patel, M., Lee, S. I., Akyea, R. K., Grindlay, D., Francis, N., Levell, N. J., …Thomas, K. (2019). A systematic review showing the lack of diagnostic criteria and tools developed for lower limb cellulitis. British Journal of Dermatology, 181(6), 1156-1165.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 7, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 7, 2019
Publication Date 2019-12
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 8, 2020
Journal British Journal of Dermatology
Print ISSN 0007-0963
Electronic ISSN 1365-2133
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 181
Issue 6
Pages 1156-1165
Keywords Dermatology
Public URL
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