Computer-Aided Characterization of Spinal Deformity

dankowiczHarry Dankowicz

Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The software package SPINECAD provides a visualization and simulation environment for interactive three-dimensional reconstruction and clinical characterization of scoliotic spinal deformity in pediatric patients using two-dimensional radiographs and Monte Carlo simulations. The package relies on the Lenke classification scheme for identifying candidate strategies for clinical intervention, and makes use of bending radiographs to locate potential sites for surgical fusing of the vertebral column. Uncertainty in the user input, e.g., associated with poor image resolution, is quantified by the application of a sensitivity analysis to the Lenke classification, and a statistical representation of the strength of characterization associated with individual classifications. The SPINECAD application may be used in combination with the SPINECAM package for computer-aided design and physical shaping of spinal implants, in order to support a progressive course of treatment agreed upon by the orthopedist and the patient.


  1. Dankowicz, H., Leo, D., Ballmer, A., Beeman, J., Dillon, T., Lassaletta, A. & O’Connor, R., “Computer-aided three-dimensional bending of spinal rod implants, other surgical implants and other articles, systems for three-dimensional shaping, and apparatuses therefor”, US Patent Application,, 2005.
  2. Dankowicz, H., Hutchison, J. & Shilt, J., “Systems and methods for multi-dimensional characterization and classification of spinal shape,” US Patent Application,, 2005.
  3. Entrekin, D.A., “On the Geometric Characterization of the Lenke Classification Scheme for Idiopathic Scoliosis,” M.Sc. thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,, 2004.




Harry Dankowicz is a Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a Fellow of the ASME and the recipient of several prestigious faculty career awards, including a Junior Investigator Grant from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research and a CAREER award and a PECASE award from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Prof. Dankowicz is a co-inventor of computer-aided diagnostic tools for characterization of spinal deformities, computer-aided manufacturing tools for shaping spinal implants, a self-calibrating mass-flow sensor for yield mapping in agricultural applications, and an anisotropic design of a brush-belt-based material transfer system. He is the author of several software packages for theoretical and computational analysis of nonlinear dynamical systems and of three advanced textbooks on modeling and analysis of multibody mechanical systems, Hamiltonian dynamics, and boundary-value problems.