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Visual estimation of joint angles at the elbow

Abu-Rajab, Rashid Barakat and Marsh, A. and Young, D. and Rymaszewski, L.A. (2010) Visual estimation of joint angles at the elbow. European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, 20 (6). pp. 463-467. ISSN 1633-8065

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess the accuracyof visual estimation of elbow joint angles. A total of 116observers (93 doctors and 23 physiotherapists) were shown21 digital images of two arms in predeWned degrees ofelbow Xexion on two separate occasions. They estimatedthe angle of Xexion to the nearest 5°. Only 70.8% of estimates were within +5°, although intra-observer agreementwas good among all groups tested (ICC range 0.963-0.983). Orthopaedic consultants and registrars were equivalent and statistically better at estimating the angles compared to senior house oYcers and physiotherapists(P < 0.001). Compared to the angles of 85 and 90°, all otherangles were signiWcantly less likely to be estimated towithin +5° (P < 0.001). In conclusion, visual estimation ofjoint angles at the elbow may not be desirable in caseswhere accurate serial assessment is required for clinicaldecision making. The use of a goniometer by an agreedstandardized protocol is advised.