RELIABILITY OF THE MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY (MSU) CLASSIFICATION OF LUMBAR DISC HERNIATION

ABSTRACT Objective: The Michigan State University (MSU) classification of lumbar disc herniation (LDH) is periodically used by various authors to classify disc herniation. We assessed the reliability of this classification system among orthopedic residents at our institute. Methods: Fifty T2 axial-cut magnetic resonance images (MRI) corresponding to the level of maximal disc herniation from patients diagnosed with a single LDH were selected and distributed to six orthopedic residents. All six residents gave a specific rating for each image based on the MSU classification; in addition, three residents gave ratings on two different occasions. The degree of agreement among residents was analyzed by calculating inter-observer and intra-observer reliability using the Kappa statistic. Results: The inter-observer reliability among the six residents calculated as the Fleiss’ Kappa was 0.422, which indicates moderate reliability. The intra-observer reliability of three selected residents calculated by Cohen's Kappa was 0.750, 0.772, and 0.859, which indicates substantial to almost perfect reliability. Variations in ratings were frequent in images portraying a broad-based disc herniation with spinal canal stenosis. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate moderate homogeneity of ratings given by residents; however, test-retest results proved the ratings to be consistent. Level of Evidence II, Diagnostic studies - investigating a diagnostic examination.