© 2016, The Author(s). Purpose: To assess the relationship between quantitative measures of disc height and signal intensity with the Pfirrmann disc degeneration scoring system and to test the inter-rater reliability of the quantitative measures. Methods: Participants were 76 people who had recently recovered from their last episode of acute low back pain and underwent MRI scan on a single 3T machine. At all 380 lumbar discs, quantitative measures of disc height and signal intensity were made by 2 independent raters and compared to Pfirrmann scores from a single radiologist. For quantitative measures of disc height and signal intensity a “raw” score and 2 adjusted ratios were calculated and the relationship with Pfirrmann scores was assessed. The inter-tester reliability of quantitative measures was also investigated. Results: There was a strong linear relationship between quantitative disc signal intensity and Pfirrmann scores for grades 1–4, but not for grades 4 and 5. For disc height only, Pfirrmann grade 5 had significantly reduced disc height compared to all other grades. Results were similar regardless of whether raw or adjusted scores were used. Inter-rater reliability for the quantitative measures was excellent (ICC > 0.97). Conclusions: Quantitative measures of disc signal intensity were strongly related to Pfirrmann scores from grade 1 to 4; however disc height only differentiated between grade 4 and 5 Pfirrmann scores. Using adjusted ratios for quantitative measures of disc height or signal intensity did not significantly alter the relationship with Pfirrmann scores.
Salamat, S., Hutchings, J., Kwong, C., Magnussen, J., & Hancock, M. J. (2016). The relationship between quantitative measures of disc height and disc signal intensity with Pfirrmann score of disc degeneration. SpringerPlus, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-016-2542-5