The inter- and intraobserver reliability for the radiological parameters of flatfoot, before and after surgery

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Abstract

Aims

Various radiological parameters are used to evaluate a flatfoot deformity and their measurements may differ. The aims of this study were to answer the following questions: 1) Which of the 11 parameters have the best inter- and intraobserver reliability in a standardized radiological setting? 2) Are pre- and postoperative assessments equally reliable? 3) What are the identifiable sources of variation?

Patients and Methods

Measurements of the 11 parameters were recorded on anteroposterior and lateral weightbearing radiographs of 38 feet before and after surgery for flatfoot, by three observers with different experience in foot surgery (A, ten years; B, three years; C, third-year orthopaedic resident). The inter- and intraobserver reliability was calculated.

Results

Preoperative interobserver reliability was high for four, moderate for five, and low for two parameters. Postoperative interobserver reliability was high for four, moderate for five, and low for two parameters. Intraobserver reliability was excellent for all parameters preoperatively as recorded by observer A (PB) and B (MP), and for eight parameters as recorded by observer C (SR). Intraobserver reliability was excellent for ten parameters postoperatively as recorded by observer A and B, and for eight parameters as recorded by observer C.

Conclusion

The following parameters can be recommended. For preoperative and postoperative evaluation of flatfoot: anteroposterior, talonavicular coverage angle; lateral, talometatarsal I angle, calcaneal pitch angle, and cuneiform-medial height (high interobserver reliability); and anteroposterior, talometatarsal II angle; lateral, talocalcaneal angle,tibiocalcaneal angle (moderate interobserver reliability). For more experienced observers, we also recommend the anteroposterior talometatarsal I angle (moderate reliability). The inter- and intraobserver reliability for most parameters were similar pre- and postoperatively. The experience of the observer and the definition and ability to measure the parameters themselves were sources of variation.

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