Reliability of capturing foot parameters using digital scanning and the neutral suspension casting technique
Background A clinical study was conducted to determine the intra and inter-rater reliability of digital scanning and the neutral suspension casting technique to measure six foot parameters. The neutral suspension casting technique is a commonly utilised method for obtaining a negative impression of the foot prior to orthotic fabrication. Digital scanning offers an alternative to the traditional plaster of Paris techniques. Methods Twenty one healthy participants volunteered to take part in the study. Six casts and six digital scans were obtained from each participant by two raters of differing clinical experience. The foot parameters chosen for investigation were cast length (mm), forefoot width (mm), rearfoot width (mm), medial arch height (mm), lateral arch height (mm) and forefoot to rearfoot alignment (degrees). Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated to determine the intra and inter-rater reliability. Measurement error was assessed through the calculation of the standard error of the measurement (SEM) and smallest real difference (SRD). Results ICC values for all foot parameters using digital scanning ranged between 0.81-0.99 for both intra and inter-rater reliability. For neutral suspension casting technique inter-rater reliability values ranged from 0.57-0.99 and intra-rater reliability values ranging from 0.36-0.99 for rater 1 and 0.49-0.99 for rater 2. Conclusions The findings of this study indicate that digital scanning is a reliable technique, irrespective of clinical experience, with reduced measurement variability in all foot parameters investigated when compared to neutral suspension casting.