Introduction: World Health Organization (WHO) radiological classification remains an important entry criterion in epidemiological studies of pneumonia in children. We report inter-observer variability in the interpretation of 169 chest radiographs in children suspected of having pneumonia.
Methods: An 18-month prospective aetiological study of pneumonia was undertaken in Northern England. Chest radiographs were performed on eligible children aged ≤16 years with clinical features of pneumonia. The initial radiology report was compared with a subsequent assessment by a consultant cardiothoracic radiologist. Chest radiographic changes were categorised according to the WHO classification.
Results: There was significant disagreement (22%) between the first and second reports (kappa = 0.70, P<0.001), notably in those aged <5 years (26%, kappa = 0.66, P<0.001). The most frequent sources of disagreement were the reporting of patchy and perihilar changes.
Conclusion: This substantial inter-observer variability highlights the need for experts from different countries to create a consensus to review the radiological definition of pneumonia in children.