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Scoltech: The Future is Straight Ahead for Scoliosis Patients



Scoliosis is the lateral curvature of the spine in the coronal plane with a Cobb angle exceeding 10°, and its commonest type - idiopathic scoliosis affects 0.4% to 7% of the Asian adolescent population1, whereas primary degenerative scoliosis plagues 36% of adults aged 60 years old and above2.

The screening and monitoring of progressive scoliosis involves X-ray imaging and physical examination using scoliometers.

However, these traditional methods which utilise analogue values are subject to human error and irreproducibility, prone to inaccuracy, on top of exposing patients to repeated harmful radiation.


With the advent of Scoltech, a digital scoliometer device for scoliosis monitoring conceived by Assoc. Prof. Ir. Ts. Dr. Lai Khin Wee and Dr. Shazia Anis, the limitations of current scoliosis monitoring methods will be a thing of the past.


Scoltech is a comprehensive measuring device designed to simplify the process of scoliosis diagnosis and monitoring. The innovation uses a microprocessor and multiple sensors to measure the shoulder height difference (SHD), hump height difference (HHD), and angle of trunk rotation (ATR) with just a tap on the screen.

The acromion, which is a bony process on the shoulder blade, is used as a reference point to compare the difference between both shoulders (SHD). The ATR is measured by moving the device along the spine, whereas the HHD is obtained from the two prominent humps on the patient’s back. Scoltech has high sensitivity and can record changes in the degree of spine curvature with an accuracy of up to 1mm.

Real-time data is continuously displayed on its touchscreen display, automatically stabilising when optimum results are achieved. This technique effectively minimises motion artefacts. The measurements are used to monitor scoliosis and determine the effectiveness of treatment.


Scoltech is a user-friendly, lightweight, and portable handheld device designed with physicians’ needs in mind. It boasts faster diagnosis and monitoring, and aids in hospital digitalisation.

Clinical testing to evaluate the precision of the prototype proved a high similarity with gold standard measurements from the baseline scoliometer3. It is a fully assembled, ready-to-use standalone product to assist healthcare professionals involved in the diagnosis and management of scoliosis, and even for personal use among patients suffering from scoliosis.

On the other hand, the non-invasive instrument with no side effects prioritises patient safety and comfort. It is equipped with adjustable lengths to easily adapt to all body physiques, making it suitable for paediatric and adult patients.


Scoltech has garnered several local and international awards and accolades for its innovative contributions to the medical field. It is a patented and trademark-registered technology.

The patent has been licensed to the spin-off company BioSight Sdn. Bhd. with Dr. Shazia Anis as CEO, for the manufacturing and sales of this product. Scoltech is on track to become IoT-enabled, facilitating seamless wireless data transmission to the physician’s desktop and rapid updates to the patient’s medical record.

With expectations of entering the Malaysian market in early 2024, Scoltech is poised to revolutionise healthcare diagnostics in the region with a digital twist.


[1] Deepak, A. S., Ong, J. Y., Choon, D., Lee, C. K., Chiu, C. K., Chan, C., & Kwan, M. K. (2017). The Clinical Effectiveness of School Screening Programme for Idiopathic Scoliosis in Malaysia. Malaysian Orthopaedic Journal, 11(1), 41–46. https://doi.org/10.5704/MOJ.1703.018

[2] McAviney J, Roberts C, Sullivan B, Alevras AJ, Graham PL, Brown BT. The prevalence of adult de novo scoliosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Spine J. 2020 Dec;29(12):2960-2969. doi: 10.1007/s00586-020-06453-0. Epub 2020 May 22. PMID: 32440771.

[3] A. Khalil, M. H. Ahmad Nizar, S. Anis and K. W. Lai, "Clinical Trial of a Digital Scoliometer Device for Scoliosis Diagnosis," 2018 IEEE-EMBS Conference on Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (IECBES), Sarawak, Malaysia, 2018, pp. 102-107, doi: 10.1109/IECBES.2018.8626630.


 

Researcher featured:

Assoc. Prof. Ir. Ts. Dr. Lai Khin Wee

Author:

Ms. Lois Low Xin Ning

Second-year UM medical student Lois Low captures her unique perspective both in words and photographs. A quiet thinker and adventurous spirit, she spends her time observing human nature and checking items off her bucket list. She believes in the power of lifelong learning and serving the broader community.

Copyedit:

Dr. Kumuthini Chandrasekaram, Research Officer, Universiti Malaya
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