Reliability of DMSA for the diagnosis of renal parenchymal abnormality in children
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The objective of this study was to evaluate the variability of technetium-99m dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scintigraphy interpretation by four nuclear medicine physicians for the diagnosis of renal parenchymal abnormality in children, and to compare variability among three different DMSA methods in clinical use: planar alone, single-photon emission tomography (SPET) alone, and planar with SPET. One hundred consecutive DMSA studies were independently interpreted 3 times by four participating nuclear medicine specialists from different departments and in random order. All scans were classified by the presence or absence of renal parenchymal abnormality using the modified four-level grading system of Goldraich. Indices of agreement were the percentage of agreement and the kappa statistic. Disagreement was analysed using children, kidneys and kidney zones (three zones per kidney). Using patients as the unit of analysis, agreement for planar and planar with SPET methods was 87%–88% (kappa 0.74) for the normal-abnormal scan classification. The corresponding agreement value for the SPET alone method was 78% (kappa 0.56). Similarly, substantial disagreement (disagreement ≥2 categories) occurred in 2.5% and 1.3% of comparisons between observers for planar alone and planar with SPET, respectively, but in 5.2% of comparisons for SPET alone. These results did not vary appreciably whether interpretation of patients, kidneys or kidney zones was compared. It is concluded that the four experienced nuclear medicine physicians showed substantial agreement in the interpretation of planar alone and planar with SPET DMSA scintigraphic images. Interpretation of SPET DMSA images, without planar images, was significantly more variable than interpretation using the two other methods, disagreement occurring in more than 20% of comparisons. SPET DMSA scintigraphy, when used without planar images, does not provide a firm basis for clinical decision making in the care of children who may have renal damage. There is no apparent benefit of reduced variability from the extra provision of SPET data to nuclear medicine physicians who already have planar images.
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