Visual and Region of Interest–Based Inter-Rater Agreement in the Assessment of the Diffusion-Weighted Imaging–Fluid-Attenuated Inversion Recovery Mismatch
Background and Purpose—WAKE-UP is a randomized, placebo-controlled MRI-based trial of thrombolysis in wake-up stroke using the mismatch between a lesion’s visibility in diffusion-weighted imaging and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) sequences as its main imaging inclusion criterion. Visual judgment of lesion conspicuity on FLAIR is however methodically limited by moderate inter-rater agreement. We therefore sought to improve rating homogeneity by incorporating quantitative signal intensity measurements.
Methods—One hundred forty-three data sets of patients with acute ischemic stroke were visually rated by 8 raters with respect to WAKE-UP study inclusion and exclusion criteria, and inter-rater agreement was calculated. A subanalysis was performed on 45 cases to determine a threshold value of relative signal intensity (rSI) between the ischemic lesion and contralateral healthy tissue which best corresponded to a visually established verdict of FLAIR positivity. The usefulness of this threshold in improving inter-rater agreement was evaluated in an additional sample of 50 patients.
Results—Inter-rater agreement for inclusion into the WAKE-UP trial was 73% with a free-marginal κ of 0.46. A threshold of rSI which best correlated with the visual rating of lesions as FLAIR positive was 1.20. The addition of rSI measurements to visual evaluation did not change the inter-rater agreement.
Conclusions—Introducing a semiquantitative measure for FLAIR rSI did not improve the agreement between individual raters. However, enhancing visual assessment with rSI measurements can provide reassurance to local investigators in cases of uncertainty.
- Received June 28, 2013.
- Accepted January 22, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.