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Clinicians and researchers from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands compared the repeatability and agreement of lameness diagnostics among and between themselves and, in comparison, to objective measures of gait asymmetry in the clinical setting of a referral hospital.
With each observer having at least 8 years of orthopedic experience, they examined 23 grade 3 or less (0-5 scale) lameness cases and examined the agreement on repeated in-person and video exams between each other and in relation to objective gait analysis measurements.
There was “good” agreement on which limb was affected within and between the veterinarians on live and video lameness examinations. They attributed some of this to a history of working together, as well as having high-quality videos. Assessment of lameness severity showed only “acceptable to poor agreement” between observers. This is perhaps not surprising as only grade 1, 2 and 3 lameness cases were included, and the grading scale being used had been modified slightly to use the subjective characterizations of “slight, moderate and severe” rather than consistency and circumstance (i.e., circling, surface hardness, inclines, etc.) as originally described. With some variation between observers, quantitative measurements of movement asymmetry were well correlated positively with subjective grades of lameness severity suggesting gait symmetry measurements may be useful for the unbiased evaluation of lameness, particularly following diagnostic nerve blocks.