Observer reliability in evaluating pedicle screw placement using computed tomography

Victor Kosmopoulos, Nicolas Theumann, Stefano Binaghi, Constantin Schizas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Pedicle screw insertion in spinal surgery is a demanding technique with potential risks to neurological structures, for example, within the spinal canal. Assessing screw placement in clinical practice has been performed using plain radiographs and/or mainly axial computed tomography (CT) images. Screw placement using CT image reconstructions in multiple planes has been described, but its reliability has yet to be studied. This study aimed at addressing the clinical issue of interobserver and intraobserver reliability in the use of axial and coronal CT images for the assessment of pedicle screw placement. Fifty nine pedicle screws were studied by two experienced radiologists on two separate occasions. Screw placement was classified as "in", "out" or "questionable". On average, 88% and 92% of the screws were classified as "in" by the first and second radiologist, respectively. Intraobserver agreement strength was almost perfect for both observers using either axial or coronal images. Interobserver agreement strength was almost perfect (axial) and substantial (coronal) in the first reading and substantial (axial, coronal) in the second reading. Assessing screw placement in more than one CT imaging plane is not only useful but reliable. Routine use may enhance reporting quality of screw placement by surgeons and radiologists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-536
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Orthopaedics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


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