Study Design: A retrospective survey of thoracic spinal curvature compared postmortem radiographs with recent clinical films in 22 cases.
Objectives: This study was performed to determine whether spinal curvature measured from postmortem radiographs is a valid measure of curvature in vivo.
Summary of Background Data: Little quantitative data have been cited on whether sagittal plane thoracic spinal curve characteristics change after death.
Methods: Thoracic kyphosis was measured using the Cobb method and the mean radius of curvature from computer-assisted digitizing of the vertebral contour. Thoracic segments visualized on the chest films were referenced to the postmortem radiograph.
Results and Conclusions: The in vivo and in vitro measurements strongly correlated (Cobb angle r = 0.95, curvature r = 0.78). Trends decreased slightly in Cobb angle (1.3[degrees], -2.6%) and increased slightly in curvature (10.7 mm, 4.1%). Differences were not significant, however, supporting the use of spinal curvature analysis with postmortem radiographs.
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