Inter- and intra-examiner reliability of lumbar spine radiograph analysis by chiropractors and its impact on clinical management
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Radiographs are the most commonly used modalities for the purpose of diagnosing skeletal disorders. Radiographs are important for chiropractors to exclude any contra-indications prior to spinal manipulative therapy. If contra-indications are found treatment is modified to what best suits each patient. There is a gap in the literature regarding chiropractors reading the same set of radiographs and agreeing on findings. Objectives The study investigated inter- and intra-examiner reliability of lumbar spine radiograph analysis by chiropractors and its impact on clinical management. Methods Inter- and intra-examiner examination of radiographs occurred in two rounds separated by two weeks. Six chiropractors read the same 30 radiographs and clinical history was only available in the second round. Results Inter-observer agreement for categorisation for Round One was 96.78% and Round Two 89.49%. Inter-observer agreement in management was 96.45% in round one and 96.00% in Round two. Agreement between chiropractors had no statistically significant difference. Identification average improved from 0.09 to 0.89 kappa. Overall specificity was relatively high and sensitivity was relatively low. Conclusion Reliability/Agreement between chiropractors was strong in both rounds. Categorising of the diagnosis improved from poor to substantial from Round One to Round Two. Case history improved the accuracy of interpreting the radiographs although this change was not statistically significant.