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More in detail

Scoliosis is a three-dimensional deformity of the human spinal column, characterised by a side-to-side curvature of the spine and usually combined to rotation of the vertebrae. This internal deformity is reflected in the external shape of the back and one of the first symptoms of scoliosis is a hump on the back, called the rib hump.

For small degree of lateral curvature, scoliosis generally does not cause pains. Whereas highest curvature can lead, to breathing difficulties when rib cage compresses one of the lungs, to high tiring due to muscle exhaustion by an unconscious, and constant balancing of the spine, acute and persistent back pain due to contacts in the musculoskeletal; And socially, to a decrease of the self-image.

Normally, the cause of scoliosis is unknown, the so-called idiopathic scoliosis. There are around 1.8 million people with scoliosis throughout the EU and presents at any age, but it is most common in children over 10 years of age, and is of paramount importance for the health and self-esteem of juveniles.

From the health point of view, the golden standard for diagnosing and monitoring scoliosis is the Cobb angle which refers to the internal curvature of the spine (by means of radiographs); from the external or aesthetic point of view there are a well-known variety of measurements and surface indices that quantify the severity of scoliosis.

Many studies show that it is not possible to predict the Cobb angle by means of previous X-rays, nor to infer a concrete value of the Cobb angle by means only of surface indices, because radiograph and surface topography measurements are not redundant, but complementary. Nevertheless, although it is not possible to eliminate X-ray radiographs, their number can be reduced to a large extent by an adequate combination of surface and radiographic measurements; different studies show that the reduction in the number of radiographs is very important because patients with scoliosis have higher risk of cancer due to repeated radiation exposure.

Scoliosis can be treated and healed, resulting in health improvement and aesthetics of the patients. Diagnosis begins with the inclinometer, a tool designed to measure trunk asymmetry, and if there is a suspicion of scoliosis, generally, a plain film X-rays is prescribed to establish the underlying cause of the curvature, by measuring the Cobb Angle, until now the golden standard to quantify the scoliosis grade.

As the Cobb Angle describes an angle formed by two planes of an internal 3D deformity, it results, not being a good indicator to quantify the scoliosis grade. To overcome this, many methodologies have been developed and used over the years for characterising the 3D deformation of the back surface; Allowing also to reduce the number of plain film X-rays, hazardous to health but necessary for monitoring treatment.