Objectives To investigate inter-reader agreement for the detection of pleural and parenchymal abnormalities using CT in a large cross-sectional study comprising information on individual cumulative exposure to asbestos.
Methods The project was approved by the hospital ethics committee, and all patients received information on the study and gave their written informed consent. In 5511 CT scans performed in a cohort of retired workers previously exposed to asbestos and volunteering to participate in a multiregional survey programme (Asbestos Related Diseases Cohort, ARDCO), double randomised standardised readings, triple in case of disagreement, were performed by seven trained expert radiologists specialised in thoracic imaging and blind to the initial interpretation. Inter-reader agreement was evaluated by calculating the κ-weighted coefficient between pairs of expert readers and results of routine practice and final diagnosis after expert reading.
Results κ-Weighted coefficients between trained experts ranged from 0.28 to 0.52 (fair to good), 0.59 to 0.86 (good to excellent) and 0.11 to 0.66 (poor to good) for the diagnosis of asbestosis, pleural plaques and fibrosis of the visceral pleura, respectively. κ-Weighted coefficients between results of routine practice and final diagnosis after expert reading were 0.13 (poor), 0.53 (moderate) and 0.11 (poor) for the diagnosis of asbestosis, pleural plaques and fibrosis of the visceral pleura, respectively.
Conclusions Interpretation of benign asbestos-related thoracic abnormalities requires standardisation of the reading and trained readers, particularly for participants asking for compensation, and with a view to the longitudinal survey of asbestos-exposed workers.
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