An application of artificial intelligence to diagnostic imaging of spine disease: Estimating spinal alignment from moiré images

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool supporting the diagnosis and treatment of spinal diseases is eagerly anticipated. In the field of diagnostic imaging, the possible application of AI includes diagnostic support for diseases requiring highly specialized expertise, such as trauma in children, scoliosis, symptomatic diseases, and spinal cord tumors. Moiré topography, which describes the 3-dimensional surface of the trunk with band patterns, has been used to screen students for scoliosis, but the interpretation of the band patterns can be ambiguous. Thus, we created a scoliosis screening system that estimates spinal alignment, the Cobb angle, and vertebral rotation from moiré images. In our system, a convolutional neural network (CNN) estimates the positions of 12 thoracic and 5 lumbar vertebrae, 17 spinous processes, and the vertebral rotation angle of each vertebra. We used this information to estimate the Cobb angle. The mean absolute error (MAE) of the estimated vertebral positions was 3.6 pixels (~5.4 mm) per person. T1 and L5 had smaller MAEs than the other levels. The MAE per person between the Cobb angle measured by doctors and the estimated Cobb angle was 3.42°. The MAE was 4.38° in normal spines, 3.13° in spines with a slight deformity, and 2.74° in spines with a mild to severe deformity. The MAE of the angle of vertebral rotation was 2.9° ± 1.4°, and was smaller when the deformity was milder. The proposed method of estimating the Cobb angle and AVR from moiré images using a CNN is expected to enhance the accuracy of scoliosis screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-702
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec



  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cobb angle
  • Estimation
  • Moiré
  • Vertebral rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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