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Estimating Spine Structure from Surface Topography

Benjamin Groisser, Ron Kimmel, Alon Wolf

Accurate measurement of spine position is important in various medical contexts, ranging from diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis to prophylaxis or rehabilitation of pathological locomotion. For research, having an accurate measurements of spine position, especially in various postures and movements, could be instrumental in understanding human kinematics. Unfortunately, current imaging modalities are not able to provide this information, or carry oncological risks that proscribe excessive scanning. For example bi-planar radiographs or computed tomography (CT) can provide faithful renditions of spine structure but involve ionizing radiation. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides a non-invasive (non-ionizing) alternative, but requires the subject to be immobilized, typically supine. This is problematic when assessing scoliosis, where load-bearing posture is preferred, and makes dynamic analysis impossible. Therefore it is desireable to have a non-invasive imaging system capable of measuring spine structure in self-supported postures, preferably in real time. To meet this need, we are working to develop statistical models capable of estimating vertebral positions using optical surface scans.

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