Assessment of urethral plate appearance through digital photography: Do pediatric urologists agree in their visual impressions of the urethral plate in children with hypospadias?
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OBJECTIVE: There is a paucity of literature on a definition or set criteria evaluating urethral plate (UP) quality. We sought to determine whether pediatric urologists are in agreement in their assessment of UP quality. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cohort of 21 pediatric urologists attending a national annual meeting were surveyed with a questionnaire inquiring about practice patterns and perceived impressions of UP quality. Nineteen sequentially projected, standardized, digital photographs, depicting plates with variable meatal locations, were presented. Intra- and inter-rater agreement among pediatric urologists was estimated by calculating the Kappa statistic (kappa). RESULTS: Thirty percent of respondents had more than 15years of practice and one-third repair 10 or more hypospadias per month. Measurement of level of agreement in the impression of UP quality of the 18 projected photographs revealed poor inter-rater agreement (kappa=0.06, P=0.0003), which was not improved by focusing on particular meatal locations or surgeon experience. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the inherent shortcomings of digital photography, this study highlights the potential subjectivity and lack of agreement on UP quality. Disagreement seems to be present irrespective of level of the defect or surgeon experience. Setting standards and improving agreement is likely to enhance reporting and interpretation of data in hypospadias studies.
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