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Surface scanning in the treatment for scoliosis and kyphosis

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a sideways (lateral) curvature of the spine. It is often combined with a rotation of the spine and ribs causing a hump. Your shoulders or waist may appear different and one shoulder blade may be more noticeable than the other.

What is kyphosis?

Kyphosis is a forwards curvature of the spine and you may appear to be more ’round shouldered’ than other people.

What is surface scanning?

Surface scanning is a specialised form of recording your back shape. You may need a formetric scan.

Why do I need surface scanning?

The surface scan shows the consultant exactly what your back looks like in three dimensions (3D). It gives information about the height of the shoulders and shoulder blades, the degree of curve in the spine, whether there is a rib hump and whether the waistline is level. It can also show if the hips are level too.

The scan will be printed out on paper to show to your consultant.

What will happen during the scan?

First of all, measurements of your height when standing and sitting will be taken to assess your growth and development. These measurements will be plotted on a growth chart.

In order to do the scan you should be able to stand perfectly still for a few seconds. You will then be asked to undress and stand in front of the scanner. Some lines will be projected onto your back and a series of pictures will be taken. This will take place in the dark.

Your mum and dad and other brothers and sisters can come with you for the scan as it is only like having a photograph taken. There is no radiation or X-rays involved, so these scans are perfectly safe for everyone.

What should I wear?

You should wear your normal clothes and underwear for the scan as you will be asked to undress. A gown will  be available for you to use.

If you have long hair please bring with you clips or hair elastics to fasten your hair up. Please do not wear any jewellery such as earrings, necklaces, watches or bracelets because they will affect the quality of the scan by interfering with the lines projected onto your back surface.

How long will the appointment take?

The appointment will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes each time you come. You will be given a separate appointment time for the scan, usually 30 minutes before seeing the consultant.

Will I need another scan?

You will need to come and have another scan at regular intervals so your growth and your spinal shape can be monitored. You will be told when your next scan will be when you see the consultant.

If you are wearing a brace or are having surgery, scans are done routinely at certain intervals and you will have a letter telling you when to come back.

What if I have any questions

If you have any questions or concerns at all about the scan, please ask us using the contact details below.

Contact information

Body surface scan technician
0114 226 0602

Mr Cole, Mr Breakwell, Mr Athanassacopoulos, Mr Bayley, Miss Srinivas
Secretary 0114 226 7981

Spinal Nursing Team
0114 226 7984 or 0114 2717000 and Bleep 152

Further resources:

Scoliosis Association (SAUK)
020 8964 534

2 Ivebury Court
323-327 Latimer Court
London, W10 6RA

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ORP1

Resource Type: Article

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Caroline Hughes- Lawson


Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

Interesting Facts

We’ve got a special MRI scanner just for teddies so children can see what it’s like before they have a scan.

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