Assessment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis from body scanner image by finite element simulations

Alexander T.D. Grunwald, Susmita Roy, Ana Alves-Pinto, Renee Lampe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, is a three-dimensional spinal deformity characterized by lateral curvature and axial rotation around the vertical body axis of the spine, the cause of which is yet unknown. The fast progression entails regular clinical monitoring, including Xrays. Here we present an approach to evaluate scoliosis from the three-dimensional image of a patient's torso, captured by an ionizing radiation free body scanner, in combination with a model of the ribcage and spine. A skeletal structure of the ribcage and vertebral column was modelled with computer aided designed software and was used as an initial structure for macroscopic finite element method simulations. The basic vertebral column model was created for an adult female in an upright position. The model was then used to simulate the patient specific scoliotic spine configurations. The simulations showed that a lateral translation of a vertebral body results in an effective axial rotation and could reproduce the spinal curvatures. The combined method of three-dimensional body scan and finite element model simulations thus provide quantitative anatomical information about the position, rotation and inclination of the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae within a three-dimensional torso. Furthermore, the simulations showed unequal distributions of stress and strain profiles across the intervertebral discs, due to their distortions, which might help to further understand the pathogenesis of scoliosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0243736
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - Feb 2021


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