A scoliometer is an instrument which measures trunk asymmetry in scoliosis. It is a small, non-invasive device that is placed over the spine while the person being measured is in a forward bending position. The reading indicates trunk asymmetry in degrees. Depending upon the measurement, it is a possible indicator that scoliosis may be present.
Frequently, patients and parents are confused between the scoliometer and Cobb angle measurement because both are reported in degrees. Often, patients will come to my office for an initial evaluation for scoliosis having never had a scoliometer measurement, which points out the necessity of spinal screenings.
In my opinion, the scoliometer reading is a good baseline measurement and makes it easy to monitor trunk asymmetry during follow-ups. However, the assessment is subject to errors since the patient must assume the same position each time and there may be a variation among examiners. (See studies below).
Hence, the scoliometer is a good tool for scoliosis screening but should not be used as a diagnostic tool. Scoliometers are commonly used in school screenings. Depending upon the scoliometer reading, an adolescent may then be referred for a spinal x-ray. Some refer at 5º, some at 7º. The x-ray will determine if scoliosis is present. If so, the physician should report the Cobb angle of the spinal curve(s) to patient or parents.
At Scoliosis 3DC, the scoliometer reading is just one of the measurements used to evaluate and monitor a scoliosis once a patient has incorporated scoliosis specific exercise into his/her life.