The first-of-its-kind palm-sized 3D ultrasound imaging system for radiation-free scoliosis assessment, name “Scolioscan Air”, bring accurate, safe and cost-efficient mass screening to schools and any where in the community. Because The portable Scolioscan Air develop by the research team of PolyU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) is recently award Grand Award; therefore Gold Medal with the Congratulations of Jury; and Special Merit Award at the 47th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva held in April.
Cost-efficient mass screening
Scoliosis is one of the most prevalent spinal diseases affecting adolescents. It is estimate that about 3% to 5% of adolescents in Hong Kong suffering from scoliosis; with increasing prevalence in recent years. A recent study in Guangzhou indicated that for girls aged 14 and 15; the prevalence is as high as 13.8%. About 15% of the adolescents with scoliosis condition deteriorating, and bracing or surgery is require when curves progress to moderate or severe status.
Early detection of scoliosis conditions and regular check-up during the rapid growing period of adolescent school-children is thus crucial. At present; X-ray imaging is the clinical gold standard for scoliosis assessment, but radiation exposure may pose increased risk for cancer.
Rapid growing period
Ir Professor ZHENG Yong-ping, Head of BME and Henry G. Leong Professor in Biomedical Engineering, who leads the research; said Scolioscan Air is a further advance system base on the PolyU-developed 3D ultrasound imaging technology under the trademark “Scolioscan” (weighed about 150 kg). “Scolioscan” was successfully commercialis into a clinic-based facility in 2016.
Being radiation-free and more cost-effective than prevailing X-ray imaging technologies; Scolioscan can facilitate mass screening and frequent follow-up monitoring. Clinical trials have proven the novel technology is very reliable; with accuracy of curve measurement comparable to X-ray assessment. Moreover, it can obtain image in any postures; provide vertebra rotation and muscle-related information, and form a 3D spinal model for the three-dimensional analysis of deformity of spine.
X-ray imaging technologies
All these cannot be achieved by X-ray imaging systems commonly use at present. Scolioscan apply to conducting prognosis and monitoring treatment outcomes for each scoliosis patient so as to establish personalised treatment plan. in addition; the technology for 3D ultrasound image reconstruction, visualisation and measurement, including a fully automatic curvature measurement method and 3D spinal deformity analysis software, developed by the team earlier can also be applied to Scolioscan Air.
The newly developed optical 3D spatial tracking method for Scolioscan Air achieves a high degree of accuracy; which is comparable with Scolioscan. Moreover, the technological compatibility makes Scolioscan Air readily available for commercialisation for popular use. With dramatically reduced material cost; size and weight compared with other scanning systems, Scolioscan Air can be carried within a suitcase.