Background: While scoliosis has, for a long time, been defined as a three-dimensional (3D) deformity, morphological classifications are confined to the two dimensions of radiographic assessments. The actually existing 3-D classification proposals have been developed in research laboratories and appear difficult to be understood by clinicians.
Aim of the study: The aim of this study was to use the results of a 3D evaluation to obtain a simple and clinically oriented morphological classification (3-DEMO) that might make it possible to distinguish among different populations of scoliotic patients.
Method: We used a large database of evaluations obtained through an optoelectronic system (AUSCAN) that gives a 3D reconstruction of the spine. The horizontal view was used, with a spinal reference system (Top View). An expert clinician evaluated the morphological reconstruction of 149 pathological spines in order to find parameters that could be used for classificatory ends. These were verified in a mathematical way and through computer simulations: some parameters had to be excluded. Pathological data were compared with those of 20 normal volunteers.
Results: We found three classificatory parameters, which are fully described and discussed in this paper: Direction, the angle between spinal pathological and normal AP axis; Shift, the co-ordinates of the barycentre of the Top View ; Phase, the parameter describing the spatial evolution of the curve. Using these parameters it was possible to distinguish normal and pathological spines, to classify our population and to differentiate scoliotic patients with identical AP classification but different 3D behaviors.
Conclusion: The 3-DEMO classification offers a new and simple way of viewing the spine through an auxiliary plane using a spinal reference system. Further studies are currently under way to compare this new system with the existing 3-D classifications, to obtain it using everyday clinical and x-rays data, and to develop a triage for clinical use.