Objective: The results of different readers' interpretations of laser-digitized hand radiographs versus original radiographs were compared to determine the reproducibility of scoring of erosions (ERO), joint space narrowing (JSN), and their combination (ERO + JSN) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Standardized radiographs of both hands were obtained at 2 visits (baseline and 6-24-month followup) from 30 patients with established RA. Conventional and laser-digitized (pixel sizes 50 microm and 100 microm) radiographs were scored independently by 3 experienced and trained radiologists who were blinded to the order of the visits. Scoring of radiographs was based on the validated Genant grading system.
Results: Intertechnique (intrareader) correlation coefficients at baseline were 0.90-0.93 for scoring of ERO, 0.90-0.94 for scoring of JSN, and 0.92-0.95 for ERO + JSN; for scoring of progression between baseline and followup, these values were 0.93-0.97, 0.87-0.95, and 0.93-0.97, respectively. Interreader (intratechnique) correlation coefficients at baseline were 0.82-0.96 for scoring of ERO, 0.69-0.91 for scoring of JSN, and 0.80-0.95 for ERO + JSN; for scoring of progression between baseline and followup, these values were 0.90-0.97, 0.80-0.92, and 0.90-0.95, respectively. Intrareader (intratechnique) correlation coefficients were 0.90-0.97 for scoring of the original radiographs and 0.90-0.98 for scoring of the digitized images at 100 microm.
Conclusion: Using this modified grading system, scoring of RA progression directly from paired, high-resolution monitors of laser-digitized images of the hands provided highly reproducible results, comparable to those obtained from the original radiographs. Thus, this method may have useful applications in clinical trials involving RA.