METHODS: Three observers measured the central anterior-to-posterior distance of the left and right L4/L5 and L5/S1 Z joint space from 5 subject scans (20 digitizer measurements, rounded to 0.1 mm) on 2 separate occasions separated by 4 weeks. Observers were blinded to each other and their previous work. Intra- and interobserver reliability was calculated by means of intraclass correlation coefficients and also by mean differences using the methods of Bland and Altman (1986). A mean difference of less than +/-0.4 mm was considered clinically acceptable.
RESULTS: Intraclass correlation coefficients showed intraobserver reliabilities of 0.95 (95% confidence interval, 0.87-0.98), 0.83 (0.62-0.92), and 0.92 (0.83-0.96) for each of the 3 observers and interobserver reliabilities of 0.90 (0.82-0.95), 0.79 (0.61-0.90), and 0.84 (0.75-0.90) for the first and second measurements and overall reliability, respectively. The mean difference between the first and second measurements was -0.04 mm (+/-1.96 SD = -0.37 to 0.29), 0.23 (-0.48 to 0.94), 0.25 (-0.24 to 0.75), and 0.15 (-0.44 to 0.74) for each of the 3 observers and the overall agreement, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Both statistical methods were found to be useful and complementary and showed the measurements to be highly reliable.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher; click on the above link for free full text.