Less use of X-rays for scoliosis

scoliometer to measure trunk rotation cobb angle with adams test

With the ATR Tool scoliometer the clinical examination is documented in scoliosis without X-rays

Scoliosis is a condition of the spine, in which the spine is laterally curved and torsioned. In 0.5% of the population appears a scoliosis which has to be treated. In this cases the Cobb angle is at least  20°. Girls are affected four times more often than boys. 

Scoliosis patients have their spines measured on a regular basis. This usually happens via X-rays.

The radiation doses of X-rays nowadays are very low, however they are potentially harmful for the patient. That is the reason many people don’t like this procedure. What many scoliosis patients don’t know: The clinical examination can be done without …

The alternatives are summarized under the term topographic procedures. Topos is Greek and means Place. In this procedure, the back is being measured. On the one hand, this occurs through a high-tech procedure, e.g. the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

But it can also be done in a more simple way: A small but important measuring device is the scoliometer. It was invented by Dr. William P. Bunnel in the 80s. It’s similar to a water level but can do much more.

With the scoliometer, the Cobb angle can be determined. This angle specifies the curvature of the spine. The patient bends over to the front with outstretched legs. This is the so-called Adams Test. The doctor or therapist places the scoliometer on the significantly prominent areas (torsions of the spine) .

Measuring the Cobb angle with the
ATR Tool scoliometer (Angle of Trunk Rotation)

With the aid of the Bunnell scale on the scoliometer, the treating physician can draw his conclusions to the cobb angle. Examinations have shown that the results gathered thereby at best only slightly differ from the results which are gathered from X-rays.

The same physician should always do the measuring: measurement errors can be avoided this way. Measurement tolerances of five degrees are also possible with X-rays. The Adams Test, is an examination which every scoliosis patient is familiar with. 

It shows that the determination of the Cobb angle with the aid of the scoliometer is a very useful technique in order to significantly reduce the burden through X-rays. Scoliosis patients could go without numerous X-ray examinations if more doctors, physical therapists and orthopedic technicians were trained in this useful procedure.

Dino Gallo – Ortholutions