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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2019 Jul 12. pii: S0301-5629(19)30241-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2019.05.031. [Epub ahead of print]

A Novel Method to Measure the Sagittal Curvature in Spinal Deformities: The Reliability and Feasibility of 3-D Ultrasound Imaging.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China.
College of Computer Science and Technology, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, China.
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China. Electronic address:


The objective of this study was to test the reliability of sagittal spinal curvature measurements using 3-D ultrasound in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Ultrasound spinous process angle (USSPA) and ultrasound laminae angle (USLA) were measured on sagittal ultrasound images, while the Cobb angle (XCA) was measured on sagittal X-ray images. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) for the intra- and inter-observer variability, linear regression analysis and Bland-Altman method, including mean absolute difference (MAD), were investigated to evaluate the reliability and validity of the two ultrasound angles compared with XCA. Excellent measurement reliabilities were demonstrated for both ultrasound angles (ICC ≥ 0.91). Moderate to good and significant linear correlations and good agreement were demonstrated between the ultrasound methods and XCA (Thoracic [R2 ≥ 0.574] / Lumbar [R2 ≥ 0.635]). No significant differences were found for the MADs between both corrected ultrasound angles and XCA. Sagittal ultrasound angles were demonstrated to be reliable for assessing sagittal curvature using spinous processes and laminae and to have good and significant correlations with XCAs. Since it is non-ionizing and relatively low cost, this method opens the possibility of providing frequent curve monitoring and evaluation, and screening for AIS patients, particularly based on sagittal profiles.


3-D ultrasound; Sagittal; Scoliosis; Spinous processes

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