Article Abstract

Intra- and interobserver reliability of the Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score system for instability in spine metastases: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors: Zach Pennington, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Erick M. Westbroek, Matthew L. Goodwin, Daniel M. Sciubba


Mechanical instability is one of the two main indications for surgical intervention in patients with metastatic spine disease. Since its publication in 2010, the Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score (SINS) has been the most commonly used means of assessing mechanical instability. To prove clinically valuable though, diagnostic tests must demonstrate consistency across measures and across observers. Here we report a systematic review and meta-analysis of all prior reports of intraobserver and interobserver reliability of the SINS score. To identify articles, we queried the PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane, and Web of Science databases for all full-text English articles reporting interobserver or intraobserver reliability for the SINS score, category, or a domain of the SINS score. Articles reporting confidence intervals for these metrics were then subjected to meta-analysis to identify pooled estimates of reliability. Of 167 unique studies identified, seven met inclusion criteria and were subjected to qualitative review and meta-analysis. Intraobserver reliability for SINS score was found to be near perfect [estimate =0.815; 90% CI (0.661–0.969)] and interobserver reliability was substantial [0.673; (0.227–1.12)]. Intraobserver and interobserver reliability among spine surgeons was significantly better than reliability across all observers (both P<0.0001). Qualitative analysis suggested that increased surgeon experience may be associated with greater intraobserver and interobserver reliability among spine surgeons. On the whole, meta-analysis of the available literature suggests SINS to have good intraobserver and interobserver reliability, giving it the potential to be a valuable guide to the management of patients with spinal metastases. Further research is required to demonstrate that SINS score correlates with the clinical decision to stabilize.