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Objective

To evaluate agreement among musculoskeletal pediatric specialists in assessing radiographic joint damage in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

Methods

Two pediatric rheumatologists, 2 pediatric radiologists, and 2 pediatric orthopedic surgeons evaluated independently 60 radiographs of both wrists and hands of children with polyarticular-course JIA. Films were scored using an adapted and simplified version of the Larsen score, ranging from 0–5. Study radiographs were selected from 568 films used in a previous study aimed to validate an adapted pediatric version of the Sharp/van der Heijde (SHS) score. To enable comparison of specialists' scores with the adapted SHS score, the 60 radiographs were divided into 6 classes of severity of damage based on quintiles of the adapted SHS score. Agreement was evaluated in terms of absolute agreement and through weighted kappa statistics.

Results

The pediatric radiologists tended to assign lower scores and to provide more frequently scores of 0 than did the other specialists. Weighted kappa for the 3 pairs of specialists ranged from 0.67–0.69, indicating substantial agreement. Absolute agreement ranged from 51.3–55.7%, depending on the pair of specialists examined. Both absolute and weighted kappa concordance between specialists' scores and the adapted SHS score were poorer for the pediatric radiologist than for the other specialists.

Conclusion

We observed fair agreement in the assessment of radiographic damage among pediatric specialists involved in the care of children with JIA. The radiologists tended to be more reserved than the rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons in labeling radiographs as damaged or in considering changes as important.