Background: Comprehensive evaluation of the morphology of the spine and of the whole body is essential in order to correctly manage patients suffering from progressive idiopathic scoliosis. Although methodology of clinical and radiological examination is well described in manuals of orthopaedics, there is deficit of data which clinical and radiological parameters are considered in everyday practise. Recently, an increasing tendency to extend scoliosis examination beyond the measure of the Cobb angle can be observed, reflecting a more patient-oriented approach. Such evaluation often involves surface parameters, aesthetics, function and quality of life.
Aim of the study: To investigate current recommendations of experts on methodology of evaluation of the patient with spinal deformity, essentially idiopathic scoliosis.
Methods: Structured Delphi procedure for collecting and processing knowledge from a group of experts with a series of questionnaires and controlled opinion feedback was performed. Experience and opinions of the professionals - physicians and physiotherapists managing scoliosis patients - were studied. According to Delphi method a Meeting Questionnaire (MQ) has been developed, resulting from a preliminary Pre-Meeting Questionnaire (PMQ) which had been previously discussed and approved on line. The MQ was circulated among the SOSORT experts during Consensus Session on "Measurements" which took place at the Annual Meeting of the Society, totally 23 panellists being engaged. Clinical, radiological and surface topography parameters were checked for agreement.
Results: 90% agreement or more was reached in 35 items and superior than 75% agreement was reached in further 25 items. An evaluation form was proposed to be used by clinicians and researchers.
Conclusion: The consensus was reached on evaluation of the morphology of the patient with idiopathic scoliosis, comprising clinical, radiological and, to less extend, surface topography assessment. Considering the variety of parameters indicated by the panellists, the Cobb angle, yet the gold standard, can be seen neither as the unique nor the only decisive parameter in the management of patients with idiopathic scoliosis.