OBJECTIVE: To identify average measurements for normal and displaced disks and to assess the reliability of measurements by chiropractic radiologists.
Study Design: Intraobserver and interobserver reliability study assessing disk displacement on magnetic resonance scans.
METHODS: Three evaluators assessed the disks on 122 magnetic resonance scans from two imaging centers. Six categories were graded, and digitizer and ruler measurements were compared. Forty-four scans were reassessed for intraobserver agreement. Intraobserver and interobserver variations were measured with intraclass correlation coefficient and kappa statistical analysis. Measurement device correlation was assessed with Pearson's r.
RESULTS: Clear size differences between different types of disk displacement were noted. Interexaminer measurement reliability was 0.78 to 0.84. Agreement concerning the presence of disk displacement was 85% (kappa = 0.68), and the classification of disk displacements was 76% (kappa = 0.60). Intraexaminer measurement reliability was 0.40 to 0.49. Intraexaminer agreement concerning the presence of disk displacement was 76% (kappa = 0.52), and the classification of disk displacements was 62% to 69% (kappa = 0.38 to 0.46). Normal versus bulged disk distinctions demonstrated the most disagreement. The ruler and digitizer correlation coefficient was 0.968.
CONCLUSIONS: Different disk types demonstrated distinct size averages. Interexaminer agreement was good concerning disk assessment and measurements. Intraexaminer agreement was lower than expected. A millimetric ruler is an acceptable alternative to digital measurement devices.
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