Assessment of radiographic sacroiliitis in anteroposterior lumbar vs conventional pelvic radiographs in axial spondyloarthritis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2021 Jan 5;60(1):269-276. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keaa260.


Objective: The aim was to investigate the reliability and validity of radiographic sacroiliitis assessment in anteroposterior (AP) lumbar radiographs compared with conventional pelvic radiographs in patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA).

Methods: Patients from the German Spondyloarthritis Inception Cohort were selected based on the availability of pelvic and AP lumbar radiographs with visible SI joints at baseline and year 2. Two readers scored the images independently in a random order according to the modified New York criteria. The sacroiliitis sum score was calculated as the mean of both readers. Patients were classified as radiographic (r-)axSpA if radiographic sacroiliitis of grade ≥2 bilaterally or grade ≥3 unilaterally was present in the opinion of both readers and as non-radiographic (nr-)axSpA otherwise. The reliability and validity of sacroiliitis assessment in AP lumbar radiographs was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), absolute agreement and κ statistics.

Results: A total of 226 sets of radiographs were scored from 113 patients included in the study. The ICC for the sacroiliitis sum score was 0.91 at both baseline and year 2. A total of 62 (54.9%) and 55 (48.7%) patients were classified as r-axSpA at baseline and 65 (57.5%) and 60 (53.1%) patients at year 2 based on evaluation of pelvic and AP lumbar radiographs, respectively. The absolute agreement between the methods on the classification was 84.9 and 85.0% at baseline and year 2, respectively, with the κ of 0.70 at both time points.

Conclusion: Radiographic sacroiliitis can be assessed in AP lumbar radiographs with a similar reliability to conventional pelvic radiographs.

Keywords: ankylosing spondylitis; axial spondyloarthritis; radiograph; sacroiliac joint; sacroiliitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Correlation of Data
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Pelvic Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiography / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sacroiliac Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sacroiliitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spondylarthritis / diagnostic imaging*