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Solid Organ Injury Grading in Trauma: Accuracy of Grading by Surgical Residents

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The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma developed an Organ Injury Scale for management of patients with splenic, kidney, or liver injuries. Despite widespread use of the guidelines, the person who determines the injury grade varies among institutions. Our purpose was to determine the accuracy and interobserver agreement between surgical residents and a radiologist in grading solid organ injuries. We retrospectively reviewed patients with solid organ injuries from January 2009 to May 2010 and compared the grade of solid organ injuries by a single resident with grades by a single blinded radiologist using a paired t test, analysis of variance, or Kruskal-Wallis. Computed tomography scans of 58 patients with splenic injuries, 43 with liver injuries, and 16 with kidney injuries were reviewed. Average grades for splenic injuries were 2.5 and 2.4 (radiologist/resident); liver injuries, 2.6 and 2.1; and kidney injuries, 2.7 and 2.8. There were no significant differences in grading by the radiologist and resident for splenic and kidney injuries; however, equal values were only achieved in 43 and 38 per cent, respectively. There was a significant difference (average rating difference 0.54, P = 0.0002) in grading between the radiologist and resident for liver injuries with only 35 per cent having equal values and the radiologist grading on average 0.5 points higher than the resident. No demographic, injury, or outcome variables were significantly associated with interobserver variability (P > 0.05). Despite a significant difference for liver injury grading, interobserver agreement between residents and a single radiologist was low. Clinical implications and the impact on outcomes related to interobserver variations require further study.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, South East Area Health Education Center, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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