Vertebral morphology characterisation: developing reliable methods for scoliosis research


The spine is made up of a series of bones, called vertebrae, which although broadly the same shape as each other, differ along the length of the spine, between different people, and between people with and without scoliosis. Being able to reliably determine the shape of the vertebrae is important for understanding more about the causes and development of scoliosis and for improving the methods used in scoliosis surgery.

Characterising the shape of the vertebrae can be achieved by obtaining an image (e.g. MRI or CT) of the vertebrae and measuring the size and angulation of various anatomical features. This method, however, is subjective (i.e. prone to human error) and may miss potentially important information. The aim of our study is therefore to develop image analysis methods that are less subjective and allow more comprehensive assessment of vertebral shape. Having developed the methods we aim to test out how reliable they are and then use them to characterise the shape of the vertebrae in a small set of individuals. This will provide information that we can then use to develop further studies to tackle a number of questions regarding scoliosis.

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