New classification of spinal deformity defines range of normalcy

Dec 09, 2008

A University of Cincinnati (UC) neurosurgeon who has spent his career helping people with severe spine problems stand up straight has spearheaded the creation of a new spinal deformity classification system. The system, published this fall in the journal Neurosurgery, defines deformity in relation to the healthy, normal curve of the spine.

"What we've done is define spinal deformity and its manifestations throughout the course of a lifetime, based on a systematic approach to the spine, from the head to the pelvis," says Charles Kuntz IV, MD, an associate professor in UC's neurosurgery department and director of the division of spine and peripheral nerve surgery at the UC Neuroscience Institute. "Defining deformity with this degree of precision allows us to provide optimal treatment."

Kuntz, who practices at the Mayfield Clinic, and his co-authors defined spinal deformity by synthesizing published literature that describes normal neutral upright spinal alignment in asymptomatic juvenile, adolescent, adult and geriatric volunteers. The researchers used a total of 38 angles and displacements to define neutral upright spinal alignment, compiling their data over a period of five years.

The spine is a "dynamic organ that changes during the course of a lifetime," Kuntz says, with normal curves increasing with age.

An estimated 1.5 percent of the population has some degree of spinal deformity, which can take many forms. Abnormal curvatures can occur from side to side, as in scoliosis; they can involve an abnormal forward curve of the spine, known as kyphosis, or hunchback; and they can involve an abnormal posterior curve of the lower spine, known as lordosis, or swayback.

Spinal deformity, depending on its severity, can cause pain, disability and a reduction in quality of life.

Kuntz, whose spinal reconstructions can take as long as 10 to 15 hours over a period of two days, strives for optimal spinal alignment with the finest cosmetic symmetry, even in the most severely disabled patients.

"Some physicians may feel that the result doesn't have to be perfect," Kuntz says. "But I do. It's a big deal when you have a patient who can't stand up straight, who can't look you in the eye, who's embarrassed to go out. It's a big deal when you help him or her become a person who's not only attractive to others but also attractive to himself or herself."

Source: University of Cincinnati

Explore further: Were clinical trial practices in East Germany questionable?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues

43 minutes ago

Nokia appears to have turned around its fortunes after the sale of its ailing cellphone unit to Microsoft, reporting a third-quarter net profit of 747 million euros ($950 million), from a loss of 91 million euros a year earlier. ...

Yahoo CEO defends strategy in face of criticism

45 minutes ago

Signaling her reign has reached a pivotal juncture, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to convince restless shareholders that the long-struggling Internet company is heading in the right direction.

Sk Hynix logs all-time high Q3 earnings

1 hour ago

SK Hynix, the world's second-largest memory chip maker, reported Thursday a record high quarterly net profit for the three months to September on strong sales and currency earnings.

Apple computer sells for record $905K in NY

1 hour ago

One of the first Apple computers ever built has sold in New York for $905,000, leading Bonhams auction house to declare it the world's most expensive computer relic.

Recommended for you

Were clinical trial practices in East Germany questionable?

Oct 23, 2014

Clinical trials carried out in the former East Germany in the second half of the 20th century were not always with the full knowledge or understanding of participants with some questionable practices taking place, according ...

Schumacher's doctor sees progress after injury

Oct 23, 2014

A French physician who treated Michael Schumacher for nearly six months after the Formula One champion struck his head in a ski accident says he is no longer in a coma and predicted a possible recovery within three years.

User comments : 0