Validation of scolioscan air-portable radiation-free three-dimensional ultrasound imaging assessment system for scoliosis

Kelly Ka Lee Lai, Timothy Tin Yan Lee, Michael Ka Shing Lee, Joseph Chi Ho Hui, Yong Ping Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


To diagnose scoliosis, the standing radiograph with Cobb’s method is the gold standard for clinical practice. Recently, three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound imaging, which is radiation-free and inexpensive, has been demonstrated to be reliable for the assessment of scoliosis and validated by several groups. A portable 3D ultrasound system for scoliosis assessment is very much demanded, as it can further extend its potential applications for scoliosis screening, diagnosis, monitoring, treatment outcome measurement, and progress prediction. The aim of this study was to investigate the reliability of a newly developed portable 3D ultrasound imaging system, Scolioscan Air, for scoliosis assessment using coronal images it generated. The system was comprised of a handheld probe and tablet PC linking with a USB cable, and the probe further included a palm-sized ultrasound module together with a low-profile optical spatial sensor. A plastic phantom with three different angle structures built-in was used to evaluate the accuracy of measurement by positioning in 10 different orientations. Then, 19 volunteers with scoliosis (13F and 6M; Age: 13.6 ± 3.2 years) with different severity of scoliosis were assessed. Each subject underwent scanning by a commercially available 3D ultrasound imaging system, Scolioscan, and the portable 3D ultrasound imaging system, with the same posture on the same date. The spinal process angles (SPA) were measured in the coronal images formed by both systems and compared with each other. The angle phantom measurement showed the measured angles well agreed with the designed values, 59.7 ± 2.9 vs. 60 degrees, 40.8 ± 1.9 vs. 40 degrees, and 20.9 ± 2.1 vs. 20 degrees. For the subject tests, results demonstrated that there was a very good agreement between the angles obtained by the two systems, with a strong correlation (R2 = 0.78) for the 29 curves measured. The absolute difference between the two data sets was 2.9 ± 1.8 degrees. In addition, there was a small mean difference of 1.2 degrees, and the differences were symmetrically distributed around the mean difference according to the Bland–Altman test. Scolioscan Air was sufficiently comparable to Scolioscan in scoliosis assessment, overcoming the space limitation of Scolioscan and thus providing wider applications. Further studies involving a larger number of subjects are worthwhile to demonstrate its potential clinical values for the management of scoliosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2858
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2021


  • 3D ultrasound
  • Portable 3D ultrasound
  • Radiation-free
  • Scoliosis
  • Ultrasound imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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