Cobb Angle And Scoliosis

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“Cobb Angle” used worldwide to measure and quantify the magnitude of spinal deformities, especially in the case of scoliosis. The Cobb angle measurement the “gold standard” of scoliosis evaluation endorsed by the Scoliosis Research Society.

It used as the standard measurement to quantify and track the progression of scoliosis. Cobb angle was first described in 1948 by Dr. John R Cobb where he outlined how to measure the angle of the spinal curve. Hence, the term “Cobb Angle” came about, bearing his name.

The forward bending test usually used to screen for scoliosis before puberty. An X-ray will be performed on the patient if this test is positive and the Cobb angle measured.

How To Measure Cobb Angle?

  1. Firstly, locate the most tilted vertebra at the top of the curve and draw a parallel line to the superior vertebral endplate. [Insert picture showing vertebral endplates].
  2. Secondly, locate the most tilted vertebra at the bottom of the curve. Afterwhich, draw a parallel line to the inferior vertebral endplate.
  3. Thirdly, erect intersecting perpendicular lines from the two parallel lines.
  4. Lastly, the angle formed between the two parallel lines is the Cobb angle. [Insert pic to show measurement of Cobb angle]
Measurement of Cobb Angle
Measurement of Cobb Angle

What Is The Significance Of Cobb Angle For Scoliosis?

The Cobb angle is a measure of the curvature of the spine in degrees. This helps the doctor to determine what type of treatment is necessary. A Cobb angle of 10 degrees regarded as a minimum angulation to define Scoliosis.

A scoliosis curve of 10 to 15 degrees normally does not require any treatment except for regular check-ups with the orthopaedic doctor. This happens until the patient has gone through puberty, and finished growing. The curvature of the spine usually does not worsen after puberty.

However, if the scoliosis curve is 20 to 40 degrees, then an orthopaedic doctor will generally prescribe a back brace. This will help to keep the spine from developing more of a curve. There are several types of braces out in the market. Some worn for 18 to 20 hours a day, others only at night time. Which type of brace the orthopaedic doctor will prescribe depends on the patient’s lifestyle and the severity of the curve(s).

Is There A Need For Surgery?

Surgery may be required to correct the curve if the Cobb angle is 40 or 50 degrees or more. The orthopaedic surgeon will perform a procedure known as spinal fusion to link or “fuse” the vertebrae together so that the spine can no longer continue to curve. To correct the curve and hold everything in line until the bones heal, metal rods, screws, hooks and wires will be used. Teens who have had surgery to correct their scoliosis will usually return to school about a month after surgery, and should be able to gradually return to all normal activities after 6 to 12 months post surgery.

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