Projection Imaging for Assessment of Scoliosis
The standing radiograph is used as a gold standard to diagnose spinal deformity including scoliosis, a medical condition defined as lateral spine curvature >10°. However, the health concern of X-ray and large inter-observer variation of measurements on X-ray images have significantly restricted its application, particularly for scoliosis screening and close follow-up for adolescent patients. In this study, a radiation-free freehand 3D ultrasound system was developed for scoliosis assessment using a volume projection imaging method. Based on the obtained coronal viewimages, two measurement methods were proposed using transverse process and spinous profile as landmarks, respectively. As a reliability study, 36 subjects (age: 30.1 ± 14.5; male: 12; female: 24) with different degrees of scoliosis were scanned using the system to test the inter- and intra-observer repeatability.
The intra- and inter-observer tests indicated that the new assessment methods were repeatable, with ICC larger than 0.92. Small intra- and inter-observer variations of measuring spine curvature were observed for the two measurement methods (intra-: 1.4 ± 1.0° and 1.4 ± 1.1°; inter-: 2.2 ± 1.6° and 2.5 ± 1.6°). The results also showed that the spinal curvature obtained by the new method had good linear correlations with X-ray Cobb’s method (R2 = 0.8, p < 0.001, 29 subjects). These results suggested that the ultrasound volume projectionimaging method can be a promising approach for the assessment of scoliosis, and further research should be followed up to demonstrate its potential clinical applications for mass screening and curve progression and treatment outcome monitoring of scoliosis patients.
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