Intra- and interobserver reliability of quantitative ultrasound measurement of the plantar fascia

J Clin Ultrasound. Mar-Apr 2011;39(3):128-34. doi: 10.1002/jcu.20787. Epub 2011 Jan 10.


Purpose: To determine intra- and interobserver reliability and measurement precision of sonographic assessment of plantar fascia thickness when using one, the mean of two, or the mean of three measurements.

Methods: Two experienced observers scanned 20 healthy subjects twice with 60 minutes between test and retest. A GE LOGIQe ultrasound scanner was used in the study. The built-in software in the scanner was used to measure the thickness of the plantar fascia (PF). Reliability was calculated using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and limits of agreement (LOA).

Results: Intraobserver reliability (ICC) using one measurement was 0.50 for one observer and 0.52 for the other, and using the mean of three measurements intraobserver reliability increased up to 0.77 and 0.67, respectively. Interobserver reliability (ICC) when using one measurement was 0.62 and increased to 0.82 when using the average of three measurements. LOA showed that when using the average of three measurements, LOA decreased to 0.6 mm, corresponding to 17.5% of the mean thickness of the PF.

Conclusions: The results showed that reliability increases when using the mean of three measurements compared with one. Limits of agreement based on intratester reliability shows that changes in thickness that are larger than 0.6 mm can be considered actual changes in thickness and not a result of measurement error.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fascia / anatomy & histology
  • Fascia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Foot / anatomy & histology
  • Foot / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Observer Variation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography