Clinical validation of coronal and sagittal spinal curve measurements based on three-dimensional vertebra vector parameters

Szabolcs Somoskeöy, Miklós Tunyogi-Csapó, Csaba Bogyó, Tamás Illés
Spine Journal: Official Journal of the North American Spine Society 2012, 12 (10): 960-8

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: For many decades, visualization and evaluation of three-dimensional (3D) spinal deformities have only been possible by two-dimensional (2D) radiodiagnostic methods, and as a result, characterization and classification were based on 2D terminologies. Recent developments in medical digital imaging and 3D visualization techniques including surface 3D reconstructions opened a chance for a long-sought change in this field. Supported by a 3D Terminology on Spinal Deformities of the Scoliosis Research Society, an approach for 3D measurements and a new 3D classification of scoliosis yielded several compelling concepts on 3D visualization and new proposals for 3D classification in recent years. More recently, a new proposal for visualization and complete 3D evaluation of the spine by 3D vertebra vectors has been introduced by our workgroup, a concept, based on EOS 2D/3D, a groundbreaking new ultralow radiation dose integrated orthopedic imaging device with sterEOS 3D spine reconstruction software.

PURPOSE: Comparison of accuracy, correlation of measurement values, intraobserver and interrater reliability of methods by conventional manual 2D and vertebra vector-based 3D measurements in a routine clinical setting.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective, nonrandomized study of diagnostic X-ray images created as part of a routine clinical protocol of eligible patients examined at our clinic during a 30-month period between July 2007 and December 2009.

PATIENT SAMPLE: In total, 201 individuals (170 females, 31 males; mean age, 19.88 years) including 10 healthy athletes with normal spine and patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (175 cases), adult degenerative scoliosis (11 cases), and Scheuermann hyperkyphosis (5 cases). Overall range of coronal curves was between 2.4 and 117.5°. Analysis of accuracy and reliability of measurements was carried out on a group of all patients and in subgroups based on coronal plane deviation: 0 to 10° (Group 1; n=36), 10 to 25° (Group 2; n=25), 25 to 50° (Group 3; n=69), 50 to 75° (Group 4; n=49), and above 75° (Group 5; n=22).

METHODS: All study subjects were examined by EOS 2D imaging, resulting in anteroposterior (AP) and lateral (LAT) full spine, orthogonal digital X-ray images, in standing position. Conventional coronal and sagittal curvature measurements including sagittal L5 vertebra wedges were determined by 3 experienced examiners, using traditional Cobb methods on EOS 2D AP and LAT images. Vertebra vector-based measurements were performed as published earlier, based on computer-assisted calculations of corresponding spinal curvature. Vertebra vectors were generated by dedicated software from sterEOS 3D spine models reconstructed from EOS 2D images by the same three examiners. Manual measurements were performed by each examiner, thrice for sterEOS 3D reconstructions and twice for vertebra vector-based measurements. Means comparison t test, Pearson bivariate correlation analysis, reliability analysis by intraclass correlation coefficients for intraobserver reproducibility and interrater reliability were performed using SPSS v16.0 software.

RESULTS: In comparison with manual 2D methods, only small and nonsignificant differences were detectable in vertebra vector-based curvature data for coronal curves and thoracic kyphosis, whereas the found difference in L1-L5 lordosis values was shown to be strongly related to the magnitude of corresponding L5 wedge. Intraobserver reliability was excellent for both methods, and interrater reproducibility was consistently higher for vertebra vector-based methods that was also found to be unaffected by the magnitude of coronal curves or sagittal plane deviations.

CONCLUSIONS: Vertebra vector-based angulation measurements could fully substitute conventional manual 2D measurements, with similar accuracy and higher intraobserver reliability and interrater reproducibility. Vertebra vectors represent a truly 3D solution for clear and comprehensible 3D visualization of spinal deformities while preserving crucial parametric information for vertebral size, 3D position, orientation, and rotation. The concept of vertebra vectors may serve as a starting point to a valid and clinically useful alternative for a new 3D classification of scoliosis.

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