Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

I don't want my child exposed to any more X-rays than absolutely necessary. The doctor wants to do X-rays to look for curvature of the spine in my 13-year old daughter. Isn't there some other way around this?

It depends. If the doctor has already taken measurements and found a scoliosis (curvature of the spine), then an X-ray is the next step before deciding treatment.

There are some ways to assess and measure normal curves in the spine. These methods can be used to measure abnormal curves as well. The first is a device called a scoliometer. Another is a kyphometer. Both of these are placed on the spine and give a reading or measure of the different spinal curves.

The measures taken with these tools can be converted by using a math formula to equal what an X-ray would find. The results aren't as accurate as an X-ray. The X-ray gives the shape and exact location of any increased spinal curve.

Check with your doctor about using the nonradiographic means of measuring scoliosis before pursuing X-rays. However, be aware that X-rays may be needed to guide the doctor and to see if your child's scoliosis is getting better or worse.

Panagiotis Korovessis, MD, PhD, et al. Correlation Between Backpack Weight and Way of Carrying, Sagittal and Front Spinal Curves, Athletic Ability, and Dorsal and Low Back Pain in Schoolchildren and Adolescents. In Journal of Spinal Disorders. February 2004. Vol. 17. No. 1. pp. 33-40.

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