Low-field magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine: reliability of qualitative evaluation of disc and muscle parameters

Acta Radiol. 2006 Nov;47(9):947-53. doi: 10.1080/02841850600965062.


Purpose: To determine the intra- and interobserver reliability in grading disc and muscle parameters using low-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Material and methods: MRI scans of 100 subjects representative of the general population were evaluated blindly by two radiologists. Criteria for grading lumbar discs were based on the spinal nomenclature of the Combined Task Force and the literature. Consensus in rating was achieved by evaluating 50 MRI examinations in tandem. The remaining 50 examinations were evaluated independently by the observers to determine interobserver agreement and re-evaluated by one of the observers to determine intra-observer agreement.

Results: Intra- and interobserver agreement was substantial when grading changes in the lumbar discs. Interobserver agreement was fair to moderate in grading the lumbar muscles, whereas intra-observer agreement was almost perfect.

Conclusion: Convincing reliability was found in the evaluation of disc- and muscle-related MRI variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results