mHealth Research Daily with Tim Bredrup

Certain smartphone applications can provide quick assistance in the diagnosis  of disease.  One such example is Cobbmeter, a smartphone application designed for the measurement of Cobb angle on Apple’s iPhone. The Cobb angle measures the degree of spinal deformity which exists in a person with scoliosis.

In efforts to determine the accuracy of Cobbmeter, five spinal surgeons performed a study that focused on the comparison between the smartphone-aided and manual measurement method for determining the Cobb angle in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The surgeons measured 53 x-rays of adolescents with thoracic scoliosis. Intraobserver and interobserver differences in measurement were analyzed.

Results of the study revealed similar intra- and interobserver differences among the surgeons. According to the authors, the mean Cobb angle of all measured x-rays was 29.3 degrees (range, 17-58 degrees) in the manual set and 29.1 degrees (range, 18-56 degrees) in the smartphone set. In addition, a the amount of time required for the smartphone-aided measurements was significantly less than the amount for the manual approach. According to authors, the mean time consumed was 13.7 seconds (range, 8.6-18.5 s) for the smartphone set, whereas it was 37.9 seconds (range, 30.1-46.9 s) for the manual set with a p-value less than .05.

The Cobbmeter iPhone app showed excellent reliability and efficiency, proving it’s superiority over manual methods. As a result, adoption of such smartphone-aided methods is now being encouraged in clinical practice by the authors of the study.

Another notable smartphone measurement tool for scoliosis is “Scoligauge” developed by orthopedic surgeon and app developer Matt Ockendon. This iPhone app enables easy and accurate testing of the Adams (forward bend) and also quantifies the results. —iMedicalApps from Sept 2011

Authors: Qiao J, Liu Z, Xu L, Wu T, Zheng X, Zhu Z, Zhu F, Qian B, Qiu Y

Institution: Nanjing University Medical School | Nanjing, China.