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J Vet Intern Med. 2014 Mar-Apr;28(2):630-8. doi: 10.1111/jvim.12320. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

Rater agreement on gait assessment during neurologic examination of horses.

Author information

1
Department of Large Animals Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Taastrup, Denmark; Department of Clinical Sciences and Services, The Royal Veterinary College, London, UK; Structure & Motion Laboratory, The Royal Veterinary College, London, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Reproducible and accurate recognition of presence and severity of ataxia in horses with neurologic disease is important when establishing a diagnosis, assessing response to treatment, and making recommendations that might influence rider safety or a decision for euthanasia.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the reproducibility and validity of the gait assessment component in the neurologic examination of horses.

ANIMALS:

Twenty-five horses referred to the Royal Veterinary College Equine Referral Hospital for neurological assessment (n = 15), purchased (without a history of gait abnormalities) for an unrelated study (n = 5), or donated because of perceived ataxia (n = 5).

METHODS:

Utilizing a prospective study design; a group of board-certified medicine (n = 2) and surgery (n = 2) clinicians and residents (n = 2) assessed components of the equine neurologic examination (live and video recorded) and assigned individual and overall neurologic gait deficit grades (0-4). Inter-rater agreement and assessment-reassessment reliability were quantified using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC).

RESULTS:

The ICCs of the selected components of the neurologic examination ranged from 0 to 0.69. "Backing up" and "recognition of mistakes over obstacle" were the only components with an ICC > 0.6. Assessment-reassessment agreement was poor to fair. The agreement on gait grading was good overall (ICC = 0.74), but poor for grades ≤ 1 (ICC = 0.08) and fair for ataxia grades ≥ 2 (ICC = 0.43). Clinicians with prior knowledge of a possible gait abnormality were more likely to assign a grade higher than the median grade.

CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE:

Clinicians should be aware of poor agreement even between skilled observers of equine gait abnormalities, especially when the clinical signs are subtle.

KEYWORDS:

Agreement; Ataxia; Physical examination; Reliability

PMID:
24612411
PMCID:
PMC4857973
DOI:
10.1111/jvim.12320
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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