Reliability of radiographic assessment of growth modulation from anterior vertebral body tethering surgery in pediatric scoliosis


Purpose: To assess the reliability of vertebral height and angular measurements for anterior vertebral body tethering (AVBT).

Methods: Eight observers measured PA radiographs of 15 idiopathic scoliosis patients treated with AVBT, pre-operative and 4-year follow-up. Vertebral wedging, disc wedging, convex vertebral body heights, and concave vertebral body heights of the 3 apical vertebrae were measured. For each observer, there were a total of 90 measurements for vertebral body height and 75 measurements for all wedging types At least 14 days elapsed between first and second round measurements.

Results: From the pre-operative to the 4-year follow-up time-point, the total wedging angle over the 3 peri-apical levels fell from 30 ± 7° to 16 ± 6° (p < 0.001) and the difference between the convex and concave vertebral heights decreased from 9 ± 4 to 6 ± 3 mm (p < 0.001). Interobserver agreement for pre-operative vertebral body heights was good [ICC = 0.80; 95% CI (0.74-0.85)]. At 4-year follow-up there was a moderate agreement [ICC = 0.67 (0.59-0.74)]. There was a poor interobserver agreement for pre-operative wedging angle measurements [ICC = 0.41 (0.32-0.52)] and 4-year follow-up [ICC = 0.45 (0.36-0.56)]. The Limits of Agreement with the Mean (LOAM) for pre-op heights was ± 2.4 mm, similar to the follow-up ± 2.6 mm. When raters are averaged in random groups of two the agreement limits decrease to ± 1.8 mm pre-op and ± 1.6 mm at follow-up. Similarly for wedging angles, LOAM values among the 8 observers of ± 4.6° pre-op and ± 4.2° dropped to ± 2.7° for both pre-op and follow-up when random groups of two raters were averaged together. Intraobserver agreement ranged from good to excellent per individual (ICC = 0.84-0.94) for pre-operative vertebral body heights, but this decreased at 4-year follow-up (ICC = 0.52-0.88). Intraobserver agreement was low overall for wedging (pre-operative ICC = 0.41-0.71; 4-year follow-up ICC = 0.41-0.76).

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  1. Kevin Smit

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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