The AO Foundation, which recently released some impressive updates to their AO Surgery Reference app, recently launched a new app – AO Spine Principles.

This app is designed for orthopaedic surgeons to refresh their knowledge of the AOSpine Principles (Stability, Alignment, Biology, and Function).

It also reviews the basic management of common spinal pathology (Trauma, Tumor, Deformity, Degeneration, Infection, and Metabolic, Inflammatory, and Genetic Conditions).

The most impressive feature when launching the AO Spine Principles app is the impressive user interface which uses a combination of bright colors and a clever design to make an attractive app. Interaction between the various types of spinal pathology is as simple as tapping on the ‘wheel’ in the center. Each key AO Spine Principle is clearly indicated.

Each type of pathology has a short paragraph of information related to each of the four main principles, in this case the important functional consideration when dealing with spinal deformity is to preserve motion segments.

The clever user interface allows you to easily switch between pathologies and principles with a simple wheel system. No individual conditions are covered; however, the broad principles of management are shown, including a number of considerations to maximize results.

Similarly, in this example the important alignment consideration when dealing with a tumor is to restore the balance. These paragraphs give a good overview of the considerations. However, there is no extra clinical detail available to help users understand exactly how this might be achieved.

Despite the impressive user interface and clever navigation user interface, the fact is that there is very little content included in this app. There is no information related to direct pathologies and neither is there detailed management advice as seen in the AO Surgery reference app.

Instead this app gives a basic overview of the principles of managing spinal patients and the key points of each type of pathology. As such, it is difficult to recommend this app to clinicians and orthopaedic surgeons on the basis that there is very little useful content contained within the app. There is a potential use for this app as a patient education tool in order to educate patients about the basics of spinal management.

However, patients will encounter the same issue as healthcare professionals which is a substantial lack of detail.


  • Free


  • Very impressive user interface
  • The content included gives a very broad overview of the considerations when dealing with spinal pathology


  • Not much information or content provided – just the four principles
  • No way to easily use the app in a clinical scenario effectively


  • While AO Spinal Principles is an attractive app with a clever user interface, it is fundamentally flawed by the lack of useful clinical content. Clinicians who want a very basic overview of spinal management may find some use in this app but they will cover all the content included within a few minutes.

Intended Audience

  • Orthopaedic surgeons and trainees, spinal neurosurgeons and other healthcare professionals involved in management of spinal conditions.

iMedicalApps Recommended

  • No

Rating (1 to 5 stars) Overall: 2

  • User Interface:5
  • Multimedia Usage: 2
  • Price: 5
  • Real World Applicability: 1