Influence of orthopedic examination on lameness scores and interobserver and intraobserver agreement in dogs with naturally occurring elbow osteoarthritis

Vet Surg. 2020 Apr;49(3):455-462. doi: 10.1111/vsu.13390. Epub 2020 Feb 5.


Objective: To determine the influence of orthopedic examination on numerical rating score (NRS) and visual analog score (VAS) when scoring lameness in dogs with elbow osteoarthritis (OA) and to evaluate interobserver and intraobserver agreement in NRS and VAS on the basis of video-graphic gait analysis.

Design: Prospective blinded study.

Animals: Eighteen client-owned dogs with radiographically confirmed elbow OA.

Methods: Videos were obtained for all dogs at a walk and at a trot both prior to and immediately after orthopedic examination. All videos were randomly sequenced. Six observers, unaware of the timing of the video, independently assigned both NRS and VAS twice, with at least a 2-week interval. Scores were evaluated with mixed analysis of variance, and the agreement among observers was accessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).

Results: No difference was detected between NRS and VAS at walk or at trot before and after orthopedic examination. Numeric rating score and VAS at walk were lower than those at trot before an orthopedic examination by scores of 0.17 (P = .0018) and 3.54 (P = .0019), respectively. The ICC for both scores for all observers was >0.9.

Conclusion: An orthopedic examination did not exacerbate the NRS and the VAS for dogs with elbow OA. Interobserver and intraobserver agreement was high for both lameness scores.

Clinical significance: Lameness may be scored after gait evaluation in dogs with elbow OA irrespective of the timing of a comprehensive orthopedic examination.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Elbow / pathology
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Lameness, Animal / diagnosis*
  • Lameness, Animal / etiology*
  • Observer Variation*
  • Osteoarthritis / complications
  • Osteoarthritis / veterinary*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Walking