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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Right thoracic curvature in the normal spine

Toshio Doi*, Katsumi Harimaya, Hiromichi Mitsuyasu, Yoshihiro Matsumoto, Keigo Masuda, Kazu Kobayakawa and Yukihide Iwamoto

Author Affiliations

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2011, 6:4  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-6-4

Published: 14 January 2011

Abstract

Background

Trunk asymmetry and vertebral rotation, at times observed in the normal spine, resemble the characteristics of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Right thoracic curvature has also been reported in the normal spine. If it is determined that the features of right thoracic side curvature in the normal spine are the same as those observed in AIS, these findings might provide a basis for elucidating the etiology of this condition. For this reason, we investigated right thoracic curvature in the normal spine.

Methods

For normal spinal measurements, 1,200 patients who underwent a posteroanterior chest radiographs were evaluated. These consisted of 400 children (ages 4-9), 400 adolescents (ages 10-19) and 400 adults (ages 20-29), with each group comprised of both genders. The exclusion criteria were obvious chest and spinal diseases. As side curvature is minimal in normal spines and the range at which curvature is measured is difficult to ascertain, first the typical curvature range in scoliosis patients was determined and then the Cobb angle in normal spines was measured using the same range as the scoliosis curve, from T5 to T12. Right thoracic curvature was given a positive value. The curve pattern was organized in each collective three groups: neutral (from -1 degree to 1 degree), right (> +1 degree), and left (< -1 degree).

Results

In child group, Cobb angle in left was 120, in neutral was 125 and in right was 155. In adolescent group, Cobb angle in left was 70, in neutral was 114 and in right was 216. In adult group, Cobb angle in left was 46, in neutral was 102 and in right was 252. The curvature pattern shifts to the right side in the adolescent group (p < 0.01) and in adult group (p < 0.001) compared to the child group. There was no significant difference in curvature pattern between adolescent and adult group.

Conclusions

Based on standing chest radiographic measurements, a right thoracic curvature was observed in normal spines after adolescence.