Tom P. C. Schlösser, Michiel M. A. Janssen, Tomaž Vrtovec, Franjo Pernuš, F. Cumhur Öner, Max A. Viergever, Koen L. Vincken, René M. Castelein

June 2014, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1433 - 1441 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-014-3358-z

First Online: 17 May 2014


Human fully upright ambulation, with fully extended hips and knees, and the body’s center of gravity directly above the hips, is unique in nature, and distinguishes humans from all other mammalians. This bipedalism is made possible by the development of a lordosis between the ischium and ilium; it allows to ambulate in this unique bipedal manner, without sacrificing forceful extension of the legs. This configuration in space introduces unique biomechanical forces with relevance for a number of spinal conditions. The aim of this study was to quantify the development of this lordosis between ischium and ilium in the normal growing and adult spine and to evaluate its correlation with the well-known clinical parameter, pelvic incidence.


Consecutive series of three-dimensional computed tomography scans of the abdomen of 189 children and 310 adults without spino-pelvic pathologies were used. Scan indications were trauma screening or acute abdominal pathology. Using previously validated image processing techniques, femoral heads, center of the sacral endplate and the axes of the ischial bones were semi-automatically identified. A true sagittal view of the pelvis was automatically reconstructed, on which ischio-iliac angulation and pelvic incidence were calculated. The ischio-iliac angle was defined as the angle between the axes of the ischial bones and the line from the midpoint of the sacral endplate to the center of the femoral heads.


A wide natural variation of the ischio-iliac angle (3°–46°) and pelvic incidence (14°–77°) was observed. Pearson’s analysis demonstrated a significant correlation between the ischio-iliac angle and pelvic incidence (r = 0.558, P < 0.001). Linear regression analysis revealed that ischio-iliac angle, as well as pelvic incidence, increases during childhood (+7° and +10°, respectively) and becomes constant after adolescence.


The development of the ischio-iliac lordosis is unique in nature, is in harmonious continuity with the highly individual lumbar lordosis and defines the way the human spine is biomechanically loaded. The practical parameter that reflects this is the pelvic incidence; both values increase during growth and remain stable in adulthood.

Read Full Article