Intra- and interobserver agreement in the classification and treatment of distal third clavicle fractures

MOON Shoulder Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: In treatment of distal third clavicle fractures, the Neer classification system, based on the location of the fracture in relation to the coracoclavicular ligaments, has traditionally been used to determine fracture pattern stability. Purpose: To determine the intra- and interobserver reliability in the classification of distal third clavicle fractures via standard plain radiographs and the intra- and interobserver agreement in the preferred treatment of these fractures. Study Design: Cohort study (Diagnosis); Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Thirty radiographs of distal clavicle fractures were randomly selected from patients treated for distal clavicle fractures between 2006 and 2011. The radiographs were distributed to 22 shoulder/sports medicine fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons. Fourteen surgeons responded and took part in the study. The evaluators were asked to measure the size of the distal fragment, classify the fracture pattern as stable or unstable, assign the Neer classification, and recommend operative versus nonoperative treatment. The radiographs were reordered and redistributed 3 months later. Inter- and intrarater agreement was determined for the distal fragment size, stability of the fracture, Neer classification, and decision to operate. Single variable logistic regression was performed to determine what factors could most accurately predict the decision for surgery. Results: Interrater agreement was fair for distal fragment size, moderate for stability, fair for Neer classification, slight for type IIB and III fractures, and moderate for treatment approach. Intrarater agreement was moderate for distal fragment size categories (k = 0.50, P<.001) and Neer classification (k = 0.42, P<.001) and substantial for stable fracture (k = 0.65, P<.001) and decision to operate (k = 0.65, P<.001). Fracture stability was the best predictor of treatment, with 89% accuracy (P<.001). Conclusion: Fracture stability determination and the decision to operate had the highest interobserver agreement. Fracture stability was the key determinant of treatment, rather than the Neer classification system or the size of the distal fragment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-984
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 4 2015


  • Distal clavicle fracture
  • Fragment size
  • Interrater agreement
  • Intrarater agreement
  • Neer classification


Dive into the research topics of 'Intra- and interobserver agreement in the classification and treatment of distal third clavicle fractures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this