Scoliosis and the Cobb Angle

Scoliosisis a lateral curvature of the spine. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis which typically has an onset after 10 years of age.

The degree of curvature of the spine is determined by the Cobb angle. A curve with a Cobb angle ≥ 10 degrees defines scoliosis. To determine the Cobb angle, begin by identifying the vertebrae at the upper and lower limits of the curve. Lines are then drawn extending along the outer vertebral borders. From these lines two more perpendicular lines are constructed. The Cobb angle is formed by the intersection of these lines.

Moderate curves (20 to 40 degrees) are treated conservatively with physical therapy and bracing. Severe curves greater than 40 degrees may require surgery.