Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancer diseases worldwide. One in 4 patients with CRC will have a disseminated disease at the time of diagnosis and often in the form of synchronous liver metastases. Studies suggest that up to 30% of patients have non-recognized hepatic metastases during primary surgery for CRC. Intraoperative ultrasonography examination (IOUS) of the liver to detect liver metastases was considered the gold standard during open CRC surgery. Today laparoscopic surgery is the standard procedure, but laparoscopic ultrasound examination (LUS) is not performed routinely. Aim To perform a systematic review of the test performance of IOUS and LUS regarding the detection of synchronous liver metastases in patients undergoing surgery for primary CRC. Method The literature was systematically reviewed using the search engines: PubMed, Cochrane, Embase and Google. 21 studies were included in the review and the key words: intraoperative ultrasound, laparoscopic ultrasound, staging colon and rectum cancer. Results Intraoperative ultrasound showed a higher sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and overall accuracy for the detection liver metastases during surgery for primary CRC, compared to preoperative imaging modalities (ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CE-CT)). LUS showed a higher detection rate for liver metastases compared to CT, CE-CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Conclusion This systematic review found that both IOUS and LUS had a higher detection rate regarding liver metastases during primary CRC surgery, especially liver metastases<10 mm in diameter, when compared to US, CT, CE-CT and MRI.