Radiographic pseudoscoliosis in healthy male subjects following voluntary lateral translation (side glide) of the thoracic spine

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006 Jan;87(1):117-22. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2005.08.004.


Objective: To determine projected Cobb angles associated with trunk list (side shift) posture, hypothesizing that the side shift "scoliotic" curvature would be similar to true scoliotic curvature in the early stages.

Design: Anteroposterior (AP) radiographs of volunteers in neutral, in left, and right lateral translations of the thoracic cage (trunk list) were digitized.

Setting: Computer laboratory.

Participants: Fifteen healthy male volunteers.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Cobb and Risser-Ferguson angles determined from digitizing vertebral body corners from T12 to L5 on 51 AP lumbar radiographs.

Results: Using the horizontal displacement of T12 from S1, subjects could translate an average of 54.0 mm to the left and 52.5 mm to the right. The average digitized Cobb T12-L5 angle produced for the 30 translated postures was 16 degrees. Angles ranged from 2.6 degrees to 27.0 degrees. Risser-Ferguson angles averaged 10 degrees between T12 and L5. Statistical correlations were found between Cobb L1-5 and translation to the left (P=.015), Cobb T12-L5 and translation to the right (P=.024), Risser-Ferguson angle and translation to the left (P=.021), and the lumbosacral angle to the right and trunk translation to the right (P=.027).

Conclusions: During lateral translation of the thorax (trunk list), coupled lumbar lateral flexion resulted in the appearance of a pseudoscoliosis on AP radiographs. For this trunk list posture, Cobb angles are considerable (16 degrees ) and increase as the magnitude of trunk translation increases. Differentiating true structural scoliosis from this pseudoscoliosis would be clinically important. The small coupled axial rotation in trunk list is in contrast to the considerable degree of axial rotation observed in structural idiopathic scoliosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Probability
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Scoliosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Scoliosis / physiopathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spine / physiology
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / physiology*