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Scoliosis Diagnosis

Scoliosis Diagnosis: Curve Measurement

In order to measure the curve of your spine, your doctor will need you to have an x-ray done. Your doctor will find the vertebrae at the beginning and end of the curve (on the x-ray image) and measure the angle of the curve. Curves that are greater than 20 degrees require scoliosis treatment.
 
Doctors group curves of the spine by their location, shape, pattern, and cause. They use this information to decide how best to treat the scoliosis.

(Click Scoliosis Treatment for more information about treatment options for scoliosis.)
 
Location
In order to identify a curve's location, your doctor will find the apex of the curve (the vertebra within the curve that is the most off-center). The location of the apex is the "location" of the curve. There are three possible curve locations:
 
  • A thoracic curve has its apex in the thoracic area (the part of the spine where the ribs attach)
  • A lumbar curve has its apex in the lower back
  • A thoracolumbar curve has its apex where the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae join.
 
Shape
The curve is usually S-shaped or C-shaped.
 
Pattern
Curves frequently follow patterns that have been studied in previous patients. The larger the curve is, the more likely it will progress (depending on the amount of growth remaining).
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Scoliosis Information

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