Evaluation of Intra- and Interobserver Variability and Repeatability of Tibial Plateau Angle Measurements with Digital Radiography Using a Novel Digital Radiographic Program


Corresponding author: Dr. Marcos D. Unis, DVM, MS, Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine, A-106 Mosier Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506-5701. E-mail: munis@vet.k-state.edu.


Objective— To compare the intra- and interobserver variability occurring when observers with differing experience levels measure tibial plateau angles (TPAs) with a novel digital radiographic projection program (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy [TPLO] planning program), the Kodak Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS), and standard sized printed films (SF).

Study Design— Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population— Dogs (n=36) with cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture that had a TPLO.

Methods— Six observers, divided into 3 equal groups based on experience level, measured TPA on 36 digitally captured radiographic images of tibiae of dogs clinically affected with CCL rupture. Each observer used 3 methods of measuring TPA and repeated the measurements 3 times with each method. The intra- and interobserver variability was compared using the coefficient of variation.

Results— Averaged over all replications and images, there was no significant difference (P>.05) in the average variability occurring with each method for all but 1 observer. There was no effect of experience level on measurement variability; however, interobserver variability was significantly less with measurements made with the PACS and TPLO planning program compared with measurements made from SF (P<.05).

Conclusions— Repeated measurements of TPA made using digital images and computer-based measurement programs were significantly less variable between observers than those made from images printed on standard radiographic films.

Clinical Relevance— Digital radiography and computer-based measurement programs are effective for determining the TPA, allowing less variability in measurements compared with SF. The ability to manipulate the image may allow better identification of anatomic landmarks.