Interobserver Agreement for the Computed Tomography Severity Grading Scales for Acute Traumatic Brain Injury

J Neurotrauma. 2020 Jun 15;37(12):1445-1451. doi: 10.1089/neu.2019.6871. Epub 2020 Mar 11.


The purpose of this study was to determine the interobserver variability among providers of different specialties and levels of experience across five established computed tomography (CT) scoring systems for acute traumatic brain injury (TBI). One hundred cases were selected at random from a retrospective population of adult patients transported to our emergency department and subjected to a non-contrast head CT due to suspicion of TBI. Eight neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons in trainee (residents and fellows) and attending roles independently scored each non-contrast head CT scan on the Marshall, Rotterdam, Helsinki, Stockholm, and NeuroImaging Radiological Interpretation System (NIRIS) head CT scales. Interobserver variability of scale scores-overall and by specialty and level of training-was quantified using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), and agreement with respect to National Institutes of Health Common Data Elements (NIH CDEs) was assessed using Cohen's kappa. All CT severity scoring systems showed high interobserver agreement as evidenced by high ICCs, ranging from 0.75-0.89. For all scoring systems, neuroradiologists (ICC range from 0.81-0.94) tended to have higher interobserver agreement than neurosurgeons (ICC range from 0.63-0.76). For all scoring systems, attendings (ICC range from 0.76-0.89) had similar interobserver agreement to trainees (ICC range from 0.73-0.89). Agreement with respect to NIH CDEs was high for ascertaining presence/absence of hemorrhage, skull fracture, and mass effect, with estimated kappa statistics of least 0.89. Acute TBI CT scoring systems demonstrate high interobserver agreement. These results provide scientific rigor for future use of these systems for the classification of acute TBI.

Keywords: common data elements; computed tomography; scoring systems; traumatic brain injury.