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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Evaluation of the iPhone with an acrylic sleeve versus the Scoliometer for rib hump measurement in scoliosis

Maree T Izatt1*, Gary R Bateman2 and Clayton J Adam1

Author Affiliations

1 Paediatric Spine Research Group, Queensland University of Technology and Mater Health Services, Level 2, Mater Children’s Hospital, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, Queensland, 4101, Australia

2 GB Orthopaedics Australia, 39 Annerley Road, South Brisbane, Queensland, 4101, Australia

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Scoliosis 2012, 7:14  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-7-14

Published: 30 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Vertebral rotation found in structural scoliosis contributes to trunkal asymmetry which is commonly measured with a simple Scoliometer device on a patient's thorax in the forward flexed position. The new generation of mobile 'smartphones' have an integrated accelerometer, making accurate angle measurement possible, which provides a potentially useful clinical tool for assessing rib hump deformity. This study aimed to compare rib hump angle measurements performed using a Smartphone and traditional Scoliometer on a set of plaster torsos representing the range of torsional deformities seen in clinical practice.

Methods

Nine observers measured the rib hump found on eight plaster torsos moulded from scoliosis patients with both a Scoliometer and an Apple iPhone on separate occasions. Each observer repeated the measurements at least a week after the original measurements, and were blinded to previous results. Intra-observer reliability and inter-observer reliability were analysed using the method of Bland and Altman and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. The Intra-Class Correlation Coefficients (ICC) were calculated for repeated measurements of each of the eight plaster torso moulds by the nine observers.

Results

Mean absolute difference between pairs of iPhone/Scoliometer measurements was 2.1 degrees, with a small (1 degrees) bias toward higher rib hump angles with the iPhone. 95% confidence intervals for intra-observer variability were +/- 1.8 degrees (Scoliometer) and +/- 3.2 degrees (iPhone). 95% confidence intervals for inter-observer variability were +/- 4.9 degrees (iPhone) and +/- 3.8 degrees (Scoliometer). The measurement errors and confidence intervals found were similar to or better than the range of previously published thoracic rib hump measurement studies.

Conclusions

The iPhone is a clinically equivalent rib hump measurement tool to the Scoliometer in spinal deformity patients. The novel use of plaster torsos as rib hump models avoids the variables of patient fatigue and discomfort, inconsistent positioning and deformity progression using human subjects in a single or multiple measurement sessions.

Keywords:
Scoliosis; Rib hump; Rib hump measurement; Scoliometer; iPhone; Measurement variability; Smartphone; Inter-observer variability; Intra-observer variability