Interobserver reliability in describing radiographic lung changes after stereotactic body radiation therapy

Noah S. Kalman, Geoffrey D. Hugo, Jenna M. Kahn, Sherry S. Zhao, Nuzhat Jan, Rebecca N. Mahon, Elisabeth Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Radiographic lung changes after stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) vary widely between patients. Standardized descriptions of acute (≤6 months after treatment) and late (>6 months after treatment) benign lung changes have been proposed but the reliable application of these classification systems has not been demonstrated. Herein, we examine the interobserver reliability of classifying acute and late lung changes after SBRT. Methods and materials: A total of 280 follow-up computed tomography scans at 3, 6, and 12 months post-treatment were analyzed in 100 patients undergoing thoracic SBRT. Standardized descriptions of acute lung changes (3- and 6-month scans) include diffuse consolidation, patchy consolidation and ground glass opacity (GGO), diffuse GGO, patchy GGO, and no change. Late lung change classifications (12-month scans) include modified conventional pattern, mass-like pattern, scar-like pattern, and no change. Five physicians scored the images independently in a blinded fashion. Fleiss' kappa scores quantified the interobserver agreement. Results: The Kappa scores were 0.30 at 3 months, 0.20 at 6 months, and 0.25 at 12 months. The proportion of patients in each category at 3 and 6 months was as follows: Diffuse consolidation 11% and 21%; patchy consolidation and GGO 15% and 28%; diffuse GGO 10% and 11%; patchy GGO 15% and 15%; and no change 49% and 25%, respectively. The percentage of patients in each category at 12 months was as follows: Modified conventional 46%; mass-like 16%; scar-like 26%; and no change 12%. Uniform scoring between the observers occurred in 26, 8, and 14 cases at 3, 6, and 12 months, respectively. Conclusions: Interobserver reliability scores indicate a fair agreement to classify radiographic lung changes after SBRT. Qualitative descriptions are insufficient to categorize these findings because most patient scans do not fit clearly into a single classification. Categorization at 6 months may be the most difficult because late and acute lung changes can arise at that time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-661
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


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