Study design: The inter- and intraobserver reliabilities of an assessment scale for cervical compression myelopathy were examined statistically. This scoring system consists of seven categories: motor function of fingers, shoulder and elbow, and lower extremity; sensory function of upper extremity, trunk and lower extremity; and function of the bladder. It evaluates the severity of myelopathy by allocating points based on degree of dysfunction in each category.
Objectives: To determine the inter- and intraobserver reliabilities of the revised scoring system (17 - 2 points) for cervical compression myelopathy proposed by the Japanese Orthopedic Association.
Summary of background data: Several scales to assess clinical outcome from treatment of cervical compression myelopathy have been proposed. Most of these scales include items evaluated by observers. However, no system, including the Japanese Orthopedic Association scoring system, has yet been validated in terms of interobserver reliability.
Methods: From five different university hospitals, 10 spine surgery specialists, 10 orthopedic surgeons who had just passed the board examination of the Japanese Orthopedic Association, and 13 residents in the first or second year of orthopedic residency programs were chosen. The participants in this study were 29 patients with myelopathy secondary to ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament selected from five participating university hospitals. Several surgeons interviewed each patient twice at intervals of 1 to 6 weeks. Inter- and intraobserver reliabilities of the total score for all categories were evaluated by the intraclass correlation coefficient. The extension of the kappa coefficient of Kraemer also was calculated for each category to assess reliability of multivariate categorical data.
Results: The interobserver reliability of the total score for the first interview (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.813) and the intra- and interobserver reliabilities of the total score (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.826) were high. The level of experience and the hospital slightly affected the reliability of the Japanese Orthopedic Association scoring system. The kappa values for intraobserver data generally were high in each category, whereas the kappa values for interobserver data were relatively low for the categories of shoulder-elbow motor function and lower extremity sensory function.
Conclusions: The inter- and intraobserver reliabilities of the Japanese Orthopedic Association scoring system for cervical myelopathy were high, suggesting that this system is useful for assessment of cervical myelopathy in comparative studies of treatment.