Research Article

Comparison of computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in the evaluation of facet tropism and facet arthrosis in degenerative cervical spondylolisthesis

Published: May 30, 2014
Genet. Mol. Res. 13 (2) : 4102-4109 DOI: 10.4238/2014.May.30.5

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the reliability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the assessment of facet tropism and facet arthrosis of spondylolisthesis levels in degenerative cervical spondylolisthesis as compared to computed tomography (CT). The discrepancies in the interpretation of CT and MRI data in the evaluation of facet tropism and arthrosis have given rise to questions regarding the reliability of comparisons of the two techniques. Using a 4-point scale, 3 blinded readers independently graded the severity of facet tropism and facet arthrosis of 79 cervical facet joints on axial T2-weighted and sagittal T1 and T2-weighted turbo spin echo images as well as the corresponding axial CT scans. All results were subjected to the kappa coefficient statistic for strength of agreement. In the assessment of the severity of facet arthrosis, intermethod agreement (weighted κ) between CT scanning with a moderate inter-rater reliability (range κ = 0.43-0.57) and MRI with fair inter-rater reliability (range κ = 0.23-0.38) was 0.76 and 0.43 for the severity of facet tropism and facet arthrosis, respectively. Intra-rater reliability for the severity of facet arthrosis was moderate to substantial for CT and was moderate for MRI scans. Intra-rater reliability for the severity of facet tropism was substantial to very good for CT and substantial for MRI scans. MRI can reliably determine the presence or degree of facet tropism but not facet arthrosis. Therefore, for a comprehensive assessment of cervical facet joint degeneration, both a CT and an MRI scan should be performed.

The aim of this study was to determine the reliability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the assessment of facet tropism and facet arthrosis of spondylolisthesis levels in degenerative cervical spondylolisthesis as compared to computed tomography (CT). The discrepancies in the interpretation of CT and MRI data in the evaluation of facet tropism and arthrosis have given rise to questions regarding the reliability of comparisons of the two techniques. Using a 4-point scale, 3 blinded readers independently graded the severity of facet tropism and facet arthrosis of 79 cervical facet joints on axial T2-weighted and sagittal T1 and T2-weighted turbo spin echo images as well as the corresponding axial CT scans. All results were subjected to the kappa coefficient statistic for strength of agreement. In the assessment of the severity of facet arthrosis, intermethod agreement (weighted κ) between CT scanning with a moderate inter-rater reliability (range κ = 0.43-0.57) and MRI with fair inter-rater reliability (range κ = 0.23-0.38) was 0.76 and 0.43 for the severity of facet tropism and facet arthrosis, respectively. Intra-rater reliability for the severity of facet arthrosis was moderate to substantial for CT and was moderate for MRI scans. Intra-rater reliability for the severity of facet tropism was substantial to very good for CT and substantial for MRI scans. MRI can reliably determine the presence or degree of facet tropism but not facet arthrosis. Therefore, for a comprehensive assessment of cervical facet joint degeneration, both a CT and an MRI scan should be performed.

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