Reliability of measuring thoracic kyphosis angle, lumbar lordosis angle and straight leg raise with an inclinometer
van Blommestein, A.S.
Purpose: Several non-invasive measurement methods have been described in the literature for recording thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis and straight leg raise (SLR). However, attempts to quantify the reliability of the inclinometer in these measurements are scarce. In addition, existing reliability studies within the literature were found to use small sample sizes. The aim of this investigation was to examine the intra-rater reliability of the chief investigator (SM), in order to provide clinicians with data that will allow them to better measure sagittal spinal posture and SLR. A blinded test-retest design was performed to determine the intra-rater reliability of thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis and SLR when assessed using an Isomed inclinometer in normals. Methods. Thirty asymptomatic subjects were assessed on two occasions separated by a time interval of 1 hour to reduce investigator memory bias. Thoracic and lumbar measurements were recorded in a relaxed standing position using an inclinometer; SLR of the dominant leg was assessed with subjects in the supine position. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), 95% confidence intervals (CI), and standard errors of measurement (SEM) were analysed to determine measurement reliability. Results. The chief investigator demonstrated excellent intra-rater reliability in the measurements of thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis and SLR. ICC (2,3) values for all three variables exceeded the 0.90 threshold suggesting that the reliability of these measures are acceptable for clinical application. Conclusions. The inclinometer technique employed in this study to record thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis and SLR is a reliable measurement method.