Developing a new tool for scoliosis screening in a tertiary specialistic setting using artificial intelligence: a retrospective study on 10,813 patients: 2023 SOSORT award winner

Eur Spine J. 2023 Nov;32(11):3836-3845. doi: 10.1007/s00586-023-07892-1. Epub 2023 Aug 31.


Purpose: The study aims to assess if the angle of trunk rotation (ATR) in combination with other readily measurable clinical parameters allows for effective non-invasive scoliosis screening.

Methods: We analysed 10,813 patients (4-18 years old) who underwent clinical and radiological evaluation for scoliosis in a tertiary clinic specialised in spinal deformities. We considered as predictors ATR, Prominence (mm), visible asymmetry of the waist, scapulae and shoulders, familiarity, sex, BMI, age, menarche, and localisation of the curve. We implemented a Logistic Regression model to classify the Cobb angle of the major curve according to thresholds of 15, 20, 25, 30, and 40 degrees, by randomly splitting the dataset into 80-20% for training and testing, respectively.

Results: The model showed accuracies of 74, 81, 79, 79, and 84% for 15-, 20-, 25-, 30- and 40-degrees thresholds, respectively. For all the thresholds ATR, Prominence, and visible asymmetry of the waist were the top five most important variables for the prediction. Samples that were wrongly classified as negatives had always statistically significant (p ≪ 0.01) lower values of ATR and Prominence. This confirmed that these two parameters were very important for the correct classification of the Cobb angle. The model showed better performances than using the 5 and 7 degrees ATR thresholds to prescribe a radiological examination.

Conclusions: Machine-learning-based classification models have the potential to effectively improve the non-invasive screening for AIS. The results of the study constitute the basis for the development of easy-to-use tools enabling physicians to decide whether to prescribe radiographic imaging.

Keywords: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; Machine learning; Prediction model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Treatment Outcome