Scoliosis, a deformity of the spine that can cause severe curvature and disability, is diagnosed using X-rays. Although effective for initial diagnosis, repeated X-rays are problematic for tracking progression of scoliosis because of the mutagenic risks associated with cumulative radiation exposure. Since frequent screening is an important tool in the management of scoliosis and in mitigating its progression, an alternative to X-ray imaging represents a significant breakthrough.
Researchers from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a radiation-free technology, named Scolioscan, which enables the diagnosis and tracking of scoliosis. Based on 3-dimensional ultrasound imaging assessments of the spine relative to bone landmarks, Scolioscan can be used to determine the spine’s rotation in various planes. The device can capture coronal images of the spine while the patient is in a standing position. The extent of spinal curvature is measured from these images and tracked over time to determine the stability of the spinal angles and scoliotic progression. Since the device is free of radiation, frequent screenings can be obtained for early detection and safe tracking.
A video describing the device can be viewed here: