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Monday, May 12, 2014

How can you tell if a Scoliosis is getting worse? Shown and explained with Color X-Ray Images

A Scoliosis is a common spine condition especially among teenagers. Parents and patients often wonder how doctors can tell if a Scoliosis is getting worse. This is an important issue since Surgery may become necessary at a particular point in the disease.

Doctors use several tools to assess the severity of a Scoliosis. Apart from examining the patient and asking targeted questions about the impact of the Scoliosis on the overall health, X-Rays are analyzed. As part of the X-Ray analysis, Orthopaedic Surgeons and Radiologists often measure the angle of the Scoliosis. This is called a "Cobb Angle" measurement. The Cobb Angle essentially gives you a degree of the curvature which can be compared to previous and future Cobb Angles to understand if a Scoliosis is getting worse. Below we will explain how a Cobb Angle is measured.

Let's first take a look at a Color X-Ray of a Scoliosis to understand some of the basic Anatomy. The Image below contains Interactive Tags which explain different parts of the Anatomy. Just move your mouse cursor over the Image and each tag will display text to explain that part of the Anatomy.

Interactive Scoliosis Color X-Ray
A Color X-Ray of a Scoliosis. Just move your mouse cursor over the Image to learn from the Interactive Image tags.

The next Image shows how a Cobb Angle is measured. A line is drawn at the top of the highest Vertebra which is tilted the most in one direction. Another line is drawn at the bottom of the lowest Vertebra pointing the most in the opposite direction. Where the right angle lines (dotted) intersect from each line, the angle is measured. This patient has a 30 degree Scoliosis curvature.

Color Scoliosis X-Ray with Cobb Angle Measurement


The next Image shows another example of a Cobb Angle. This curvature is more severe than the example above. It is a 90 degree Scoliosis Curvature.

Color Scoliosis X-Ray with Cobb Angle Measurement
Color X-Ray showing a Cobb Angle of a 90 degree Scoliosis Curvature

The actual Scoliosis curvature is only one assessment Surgeons use to make a determination if Surgery is needed. However, it is a useful tool for parents to know about and understand if a Scoliosis is worsening. Overall most cases of adolescent Scoliosis progress slowly over time and may not require Surgery.

Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images like the ones shown in this Blog are available for licensing at

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