Establishing a Method for Quantifying Spinal Curvature during Videofluoroscopic Swallow Studies: Applying the Modified Cobb Angle to Healthy Young and Older Adults Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The Cobb angle is traditionally used for quantifying the degree of spinal curvature through evaluation of the full spinal cord. When conducting measurements on videofluoroscopy swallowing studies (VFSS), the Cobb angle can measure degree of cervical vertebrae curvature, which may have implications for swallowing. Given that this measure may have utility in dysphagia research, the reliability of this measure taken from C2-C4 and establishing the presence of changes with age were the focus of the current, proof-of-principle study. VFSS from 19 healthy young adults and 39 healthy older adults were retrospectively analyzed. The C2-C4 Cobb angle was measured between cervical vertebrae two and four on frames of laryngeal vestibule closure (LVC) and post-swallow rest. Results revealed excellent levels of inter- and intra-rater reliability for frame of post-swallow rest (ICCs = 0.788 and 0.793), and fair to good levels of agreement for frame of LVC (ICCs = 0.667 and 0.621). Significant differences in the C2-C4 Cobb angle were found between the healthy young and old data (p < 0.01). Healthy younger adults had a mean angle of 5.8±9.0 degrees at LVC and 7.7±4.5 degrees at swallow rest, whereas healthy older adults had a mean angle of 12.5±9.0 degrees at LVC and 12.4±9.7 degrees at rest. Consistent with the existing spine literature, the curvature of cervical vertebrae appears to increase with age. With established reliability, we propose that the C2-C4 Cobb angle may be used to determine the degree of spinal curvature in a variety of patient populations in order to determine impacts on swallowing function.

publication date

  • July 29, 2020