State of the art of current 3-D scoliosis classifications: a systematic review from a clinical perspective

J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2015 Oct 16:12:91. doi: 10.1186/s12984-015-0083-8.


Scoliosis is a complex three dimensional (3D) deformity: the current lack of a 3D classification could hide something fundamental for scoliosis prognosis and treatment. A clear picture of the actually existing 3D classifications lacks. The aim of this systematic review was to identify all the 3D classification systems proposed until now in the literature with the aim to identify similarities and differences mainly in a clinical perspective.After a MEDLINE Data Base review, done in November 2013 using the search terms "Scoliosis/classification" [Mesh] and "scoliosis/classification and Imaging, three dimensional" [Mesh], 8 papers were included with a total of 1164 scoliosis patients, 23 hyperkyphosis and 25 controls, aged between 8 and 20 years, with curves from 10° to 81° Cobb, and various curve patterns. Six studies looked at the whole 3D spine and found classificatory parameters according to planes, angles and rotations, including: Plane of Maximal Curvature (PMC), Best Fit Plane, Cobb angles in bodily plane and PMC, Axial rotation of the apical vertebra and of the PMC, and geometric 3D torsion. Two studies used the regional (spinal) Top View of the spine and found classificatory parameters according to its geometrical properties (area, direction and barycenter) including: Ratio of the frontal and the sagittal size, Phase, Directions (total, thoracic and lumbar), and Shift. It was possible to find similarities among 10 out of the 16 the sub-groups identified by different authors with different methods in different populations.In summation, the state of the art of 3D classification systems include 8 studies which showed some comparability, even though of low level. The most useful one in clinical everyday practice, is far from being defined. More than 20 years passed since the definition of the third dimension of the scoliosis deformity, now the time has come for clinicians and bioengineers to start some real clinical application, and develop means to make this approach an everyday tool.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Scoliosis / classification*
  • Scoliosis / pathology*