Researchers in Serbia have created a diagnostic tool to assess spine curvature in potential scoliosis patients. The benefits are less repeated radiation exposures, which are known to cause breast cancer in patients.
Scoliosis is a condition that affects a person’s spine curvature, which is often shaped sideways in patients. According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, it affects around 2-3% of the US population. Worldwide, as many as 28 million people may suffer from the condition with children between the ages of 10 and 16 years most affected.
Diagnostic options are usually expensive and involve repeated radiation exposures. It’s a mixed blessing – on the one hand, the doctor can monitor the curvature, on the other hand, teenage scoliosis patients are known to develop breast cancer more likely in later years.
But that may be about to change thanks to a research team in Serbia.
The scientists at the University of Kragujevac have proposed a new and non-invasive method to diagnose scoliosis using 3D technology. Traditional scoliosis diagnostic tools include CT or MRI scans which expose patients to X-rays. Another drawback of these is that patients are scanned lying down and not standing up. Also, it requires experienced physicians to correctly position patients for scanning and later diagnose the images.
The team at Kragujevac have suggested a new 3D method that can quantify a spine deformity based on a model of the patient’s spine.
Researchers used 3D scanning and reconstruction methods to create a 3D spinal model based on a patient’s data. They employed the Materialise Mimics Innovation Suite to reconstruct a spine from CT scans and generate a model of the patient’s spine deformities. This reduces the need for X-ray based diagnostics whilst offering 3D measurements.
The spinal deformity modeling is initially based on a generic 3D model of a spine. Once a patient’s CT scans are added to it, a better model of the patient’s dorsal surface can be created.
Researchers at the University of Kragujevac tested the tool on 372 patient datasets. The results demonstrate that the system is robust and could ultimately replace radiation-based diagnostics. In addition, traditional diagnosis often includes subjective judgment of a curvature, whereas the 3D model is based on quantitative and objective measurements making for an overall more standardized test system.
By making use of the 3D nature of scoliosis, researchers have taken the diagnosis of the disorder one step further. Their system is now being tested at the Center for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, in Orthopedics and Traumatology Clinic at Clinical Center Kragujevac, Serbia.
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