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BMJ Open Respir Res. 2018 Mar 25;5(1):e000264. doi: 10.1136/bmjresp-2017-000264. eCollection 2018.

Effect of idiopathic thoracic scoliosis on the tracheobronchial tree.

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School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
Scottish National Spine Deformity Service, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, UK.



High prevalence of obstructive lung disease has been reported in patients undergoing surgical correction of thoracic scoliosis. Airway narrowing due to spine morphology is analysed as a contributing factor.


Preoperative surgical planning CTs of 34 patients with right-sided thoracic scoliosis (age: 17.6±9.0) were retrospectively analysed and compared with 15 non-scoliotic controls (age: 16.3±5.1). Three-dimensional models of spine and airway lumen were reconstructed. Based on thoracic sagittal profile, patients were divided into hypokyphosis (HypoS: <10°), normal kyphosis (NormS: ≥10° and <40°) and hyperkyphosis (HyperS: ≥40°) groups. Lumen area of bronchi, bifurcation angles and minimum spine-airway distance were measured. Pulmonary function tests were correlated to scoliosis, kyphosis and lumen area.


Loss of kyphosis led to proximity between bronchus intermedius (BI) and spine. HypoS (NormS) had lumen area reductions in the right main bronchus of 29% (19%), BI of 45% (23%), right middle lobar bronchus of 46% (32%) and right lower lobe bronchus (RLL7) of 66% (37%), respectively (P<0.05). The lower right superior segmental bronchus was reduced across all scoliotic groups (P<0.05). Airways were displaced caudal by 0.65±0.45 vertebra in patients with scoliosis. Loss of kyphosis correlated negatively with forced expiratory volume in 1 s/forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC), FVC/(FVC predicted) and FEV1/(FEV1 predicted) (P<0.01). Lumen area of trachea, right upper lobar bronchus, BI and RLL7 correlated negatively with FEV1/FVC. BI and RLL7 narrowing were strong predictors of FVC and FEV1 loss (P<0.001).


Right-sided main stem airways are narrowed in HypoS and NormS. Loss of kyphosis leads to narrowing of BI and its trifurcation. FEV1/FVC correlated negatively with airway narrowing, implying an obstructive element to lung function impairment in patients with scoliosis and hypokyphosis.


lung physiology; paediatric lung disaese; paediatric physician; thoracic surgery

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