Background context The benefits of oblique magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reformations to assess cervical neural foramina have been reported previously in clinical and cadaveric studies. But there is a paucity of literature investigating intra- and interobserver variabilities for assessing cervical foraminal stenosis using oblique MRI views. Purpose To determine the value of oblique MRI views compared with axial and sagittal views for assessing foraminal stenosis of the cervical spine using intra- and interobserver variabilities. Study design A retrospective study. Patient sample Twenty-six patients were included. Outcome measures Two independent reviewers blindly identified the presence of foraminal stenosis as definite or indeterminate on the sagittal, axial, and oblique views. The assessments using the different views were compared using an independent t test. Intra- and interobserver variabilities were assessed using Kappa analysis. Methods We evaluated the cervical spine MRIs of patients with varying degrees of foraminal stenosis. The mean age of the patients was 60.8 years (range 50-86 years). Male to female ratio was 16:10. The oblique images were obtained by reformatting the scans perpendicular to the long axis of the right and left neural foramina, respectively. Results The oblique or axial views had significantly greater confidence rates for determining the presence of foraminal stenosis than the sagittal views (92.3%, 88.1% vs. 58.0%, respectively, p=.000). The oblique view had significantly better intraobserver agreement than the sagittal and axial images. Both the axial and oblique views had significantly better interobserver agreement than the sagittal images. Conclusions Oblique MRI views of the cervical spine significantly reduce the degree of intra- and interobserver variabilities and increase observer confidence in the assessment of foraminal stenosis. Our results suggest that routine use of oblique cervical MRI views might be useful for evaluating cervical foraminal stenosis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Clinical Neurology