Axial rotation measurement of scoliotic vertebrae by means of computed tomography scans

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1996 Mar 1;21(5):576-81. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199603010-00009.


Study design: This study evaluated the preconditions for exact axial rotation measurement and the possibility for other parameters to measure axial rotation and mechanical torsion.

Objectives: Quality criteria for axial rotation measurement in computed tomography scans are not established yet. Criteria should be found to improve axial rotation measurement.

Summary of background data: To the authors' knowledge, no systematic analysis of the errors of axial rotation measurement based on computed tomography scans has been performed.

Methods: Axial rotation was measured in 259 computed tomography scans of 11 cadaveric vertebrae from scoliotic specimens. The sagittal axial rotation measurement angle of Aaro and Dahlborn and a new rotation parameter were measured with a pencil and ruler. Five landmarks were digitized and consequently five axial rotation parameters were computed. The influence of insufficient visualization of bony landmarks, mechanical torsion of the vertebra itself, and oblique position of the vertebra was evaluated.

Results: Accuracy is considerably improved in central computed tomography scans (same distance to the top and bottom of the vertebral body) due to good visualization of landmarks and reduction of effects of mechanical torsion. The oblique vertebral position causes more errors. One mechanical torsion parameter with sufficient reliability is identified.

Conclusion: The sagittal axial rotation measurement method of Aaro and Dahlborn is superior to other techniques of measurement. It can be improved considerably if computed tomography scans fulfill certain quality criteria.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rotation*
  • Scoliosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Scoliosis / pathology*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed