Fraser R. Labrom, Maree T. Izatt, Andrew P. Claus, J. Paige Little

April 2021, pp 1 - 12 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06842-z

First Online: 18 April 2021

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis 3D vertebral morphology, progression and nomenclature: a current concepts review


There has been a recent shift toward the analysis of the pathoanatomical variation of the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) spine with the three dimensions, and research of level-wise vertebral body morphology in single anatomical planes is now replete within the field. In addition to providing a precise description of the osseous structures that are the focus of instrumented surgical interventions, understanding the anatomical variation between vertebral bodies will elucidate possible pathoaetiological mechanisms of the onset of scoliotic deformity.


This review aimed to discuss the current landscape of AIS segmental vertebral morphology research and provide a comprehensive report of the typical patterns observed at the individual vertebral level.


We have detailed how these vertebrae are typically characterised by lateral wedging to the convexity, have a marked degree of anterior overgrowth, are rotated towards the convexity, have inherent gyratory mechanical torsion created within them and are associated with pedicles on the concave side being narrower, longer and more laterally angled. For the most part, these findings are most pronounced at and around the apex of a scoliotic curve, with these deformations reducing towards junctional vertebrae. We have also summarised a nomenclature defined by the Scoliosis Research Society, highlighting the need for more consistent reporting of these level-wise dimensional anatomical changes.


Finally, we emphasised how a marked degree of heterogeneity exists between the included investigations, namely in scoliotic curve-type inclusion, imaging modality and timepoint of analysis within scoliosis’ longitudinal development, and how improvement in these study design characteristics will enhance ongoing research.

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