Freehand three-dimensional ultrasound system for assessment of scoliosis

Chung Wai James Cheung, Guang Quan Zhou, Siu Yin Law, Ka Lee Lai, Wei Wei Jiang, Yongping Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Objective: Standing radiograph with Cobb's method is routinely used to diagnose scoliosis, a medical condition defined as a lateral spine curvature > 10° with concordant vertebral rotation. However, radiation hazard and two-dimensional (2-D) viewing of 3-D anatomy restrict the application of radiograph in scoliosis examination. Methods: In this study, a freehand 3-D ultrasound system was developed for the radiation-free assessment of scoliosis. Bony landmarks of the spine were manually extracted from a series of ultrasound images with their spatial information recorded to form a 3-D spine model for measuring its curvature. To validate its feasibility, invivo measurements were conducted in 28 volunteers (age: 28.0±13.0 years, 9 males and 19 females). A significant linear correlation (R2=0.86; p<0.001) was found between the spine curvatures as measured by Cobb's method and the 3-D ultrasound imaging with transverse process and superior articular process as landmarks. The intra- and interobserver tests indicated that the proposed method is repeatable. Results: The 3-D ultrasound method using bony landmarks tended to underestimate the deformity, and a proper scaling is required. Nevertheless, this study demonstrated the feasibility of the freehand 3-D ultrasound system to assess scoliosis in the standing posture with the proposed methods and 3-D spine profile. Conclusion: Further studies are required to understand the variations that exist between the ultrasound and radiograph results with a larger number of volunteers, and to demonstrate its potential clinical applications for monitoring of scoliosis patients. Through further clinical trials and development, the reported 3-D ultrasound imaging system can potentially be used for scoliosis mass screening and frequent monitoring of progress and treatment outcome because of its radiation-free and easy accessibility feature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Translation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2015


  • Cobb angle
  • Freehand 3-D ultrasound
  • Scoliosis
  • Spine deformity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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