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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Repeatability of radiographic assessments for feline hip dysplasia suggest consensus scores in radiology are more uncertain than commonly assumed

Ball, Elisabeth; Uhlhorn, Margareta; Eksell, Per; Olsson, Ulrika; Ohlsson, Asa; Low, Matthew


Variation in the diagnostic interpretation of radiographs is a well-recognised problem in human and veterinary medicine. One common solution is to create a 'consensus' score based on a majority or unanimous decision from multiple observers. While consensus approaches are generally assumed to improve diagnostic repeatability, the extent to which consensus scores are themselves repeatable has rarely been examined. Here we use repeated assessments by three radiologists of 196 hip radiographs from 98 cats within a health-screening programme to examine intra-observer, interobserver, majority-consensus and unanimous-consensus repeatability scores for feline hip dysplasia. In line with other studies, intra-observer and inter-observer repeatability was moderate (63-71%), and related to the reference assessment and time taken to reach a decision. Consensus scores did show reduced variation between assessments compared to individuals, but consensus repeatability was far from perfect. Only 75% of majority consensus scores were in agreement between assessments, and based on Bayesian multinomial modelling we estimate that unanimous consensus scores can have repeatabilities as low as 83%. These results clearly show that consensus scores in radiology can have large uncertainties, and that future studies in both human and veterinary medicine need to include consensus-uncertainty estimates if we are to properly interpret radiological diagnoses and the extent to which consensus scores improve diagnostic accuracy.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2022, Volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 13916