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School screening for scoliosis: can surface topography replace examination with scoliometer?

Joanna Chowanska12*, Tomasz Kotwicki12, Krzysztof Rosadzinski1 and Zbigniew Sliwinski34

Author Affiliations

1 Spine Disorders Unit, Department of Pediatric Orthopedics and Traumatology, University of Medical Sciences, Górecka 30, 60-201 Poznan, Poland

2 Rehasport Clinic, Górecka 30, 60-201 Poznan, Poland

3 Rehabilitation Centre, Konarskiego 5B, 59-900 Zgorzelec, Poland

4 Jan Kochanowski University of Humanities and Sciences, Kielce, Poland

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Scoliosis 2012, 7:9  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-7-9

Published: 3 April 2012



Clinical examination with the use of scoliometer is a basic method for scoliosis detection in school screening programs. Surface topography (ST) enables three-dimensional back assessment, however it has not been adopted for the purpose of scoliosis screening yet. The purpose of this study was to assess the usefulness of ST for scoliosis screening.


996 girls aged 9 to 13 years were examined, with both scoliometer and surface topography. The Surface Trunk Rotation (STR) was introduced and defined as a parameter allowing comparison with scoliometer Angle of Trunk Rotation taken as reference.


Intra-observer error for STR parameter was 1.9°, inter-observer error was 0.8°. Sensitivity and specificity of ST were not satisfactory, the screening cut-off value of the surface topography parameter could not be established.


The study did not reveal advantage of ST as a scoliosis screening method in comparison to clinical examination with the use of the scoliometer.

Idiopathic scoliosis; Scoliosis school screening; Scoliometer; Surface topography