Scanning For Scoliosis Using A Palm-Sized Device

Researchers in Hong Kong have developed a palm-sized 3D ultrasound imaging system that could allow mass screening for scoliosis.

AsianScientist (May 17, 2019) – A research group in Hong Kong has invented a palm-sized 3D ultrasound imaging system for radiation-free scoliosis assessment. They called their device the ‘Scolioscan Air.’

Scoliosis is one of the most prevalent spinal diseases affecting adolescents. Scientists estimate that about three to five percent of adolescents in Hong Kong suffer from scoliosis, with increasing prevalence in recent years.

About 15 percent of the adolescents with scoliosis would see their condition deteriorate over time, and bracing or surgery would eventually be required. At present, X-ray imaging is the clinical gold standard for scoliosis assessment, but radiation risks aside, X-rays are non-portable and not widely accessible.

In this study, researchers led by Professor Zheng Yong-ping at Hong Kong Polytechnic University created a 3D ultrasound imaging system that can be used to perform scoliosis assessment without radiation. The ‘Scolioscan Air,’ as they call it, consists of three hardware components: a palm-sized wireless ultrasound probe with an optical marker mounted at its bottom, a depth camera and a laptop or tablet computer with dedicated software.

Being radiation-free and more cost-effective than prevailing X-ray imaging technologies, Scolioscan can facilitate mass screening and frequent follow-up monitoring. In clinical trials, the team found that the technology has an accuracy of curve measurement in scoliosis patients that is comparable to X-ray assessment. Moreover, the device can obtain images from a range of angles, provide vertebra rotation and muscle-related information and form a 3D spinal model for analysis of spinal deformities.

“With this innovation, we can now provide mass screening services to youngsters anywhere, anytime. It would facilitate the implementation of school-based scoliosis screening to detect and treat spinal curvatures before they become severe enough to cause chronic pain or other health issues among adolescents,” said Zheng. “Moreover, when providing non-surgical treatment for scoliosis patients, healthcare personnel can use Scolioscan Air to conduct real-time assessment, so as to optimize the treatment outcome.”

The article can be found at: Brink et al. (2018) A Reliability and Validity Study for Different Coronal Angles Using Ultrasound Imaging in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.


Source: Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
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