Objective: To evaluate a standardized training program and a reliability exercise in colour Doppler ultrasound (CDUS) for giant cell arteritis (GCA).
Methods: Two workshops were conducted in 2007 and 2008 to train rheumatologists in CDUS for GCA ultrasound diagnosis. Twenty-nine and forty-three participants without previous experience in GCA ultrasound were admitted in 2007 and 2008, respectively. First, some theoretical knowledge about GCA ultrasound signs was provided; second, a reader evaluation session of temporal artery video recording examinations of 27 and 30 patients were projected in the 2007 meeting and the 2008 workshop, respectively (50% were cases and 50% were controls). Twenty-four cases were common to both reader sessions. A mean of six videos were shown of each patient. Each video had to be assessed as normal or pathologic. Finally, hands-on scanning training was performed. To assess the efficacy of the workshop: 1) a structured satisfaction questionnaire was graded (1-5 Likert scale), and 2) the reliability, specificity, and percentage of correctly classified cases by each participant were calculated.
Results: The kappa coefficient of inter-reader agreement for the 29 and 43 participants was excellent (Kappa: 0.846) in 2007 and (Kappa: 0.848) in 2008. The intra-reader kappa result was also excellent (Kappa: 0.950). The satisfaction, sensitivity, specificity, and percentage of correctly classified patients and controls were very high.
Conclusion: The proposed learning method seemed to be effective and well accepted by the target audience. The inter-reader reliability of GCA ultrasound was excellent. These encouraging results support the need for planned standardized training programs.