Measurement of distances and locations of thoracic and lumbar vertebral bodies from CT scans in cases of spinal deformation

Alexander T  D Grünwald, Susmita Roy, Renée Lampe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Spinal deformations, except for acute injuries, are among the most frequent reasons for visiting an orthopaedic specialist and musculoskeletal treatment in adults and adolescents. Data on the morphology and anatomical structures of the spine are therefore of interest to orthopaedics, physicians, and medical scientists alike, in the broad field from diagnosis to therapy and in research. Methods: Along the course of developing supplementary methods that do not require the use of ionizing radiation in the assessment of scoliosis, twenty CT scans from females and males with various severity of spinal deformations and body shape have been analysed with respect to the transverse distances between the vertebral body and the spinous process end tip and the skin, respectively, at thoracic and lumbar vertebral levels. Further, the locations of the vertebral bodies have been analysed in relation to the patient’s individual body shape and shown together with those from other patients by normalization to the area encompassed by the transverse body contour. Results: While the transverse distance from the vertebral body to the skin varies between patients, the distances from the vertebral body to the spinous processes end tips tend to be rather similar across different patients of the same gender. Tables list the arithmetic mean distances for all thoracic and lumbar vertebral levels and for different regions upon grouping into mild, medium, and strong spinal deformation and according to the range of spinal deformation. Conclusions: The distances, the clustering of the locations of the vertebral bodies as a function of the vertebral level, and the trends therein could in the future be used in context with biomechanical modeling of a patient’s individual spinal deformation in scoliosis assessment using 3D body scanner images during follow-up examinations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
JournalBMC Medical Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Anatomical data
  • Body scanner
  • Computed tomography
  • Spinal deformation
  • Vertebral body


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