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Background: Surgical treatment of spinal deformities is complex and is performed by a limited number of spine surgeons. To obtain adequate radiological and clinical correction, a large amount of clinical experience is required when planning corrective surgery because of the enormous amount of patient related variables, and the many surgical techniques (e.g. rod rotation vs translation, pedicle screws vs hooks, anterior vs posterior).

The widely used classification systems (King and Lenke) are useful for documentation of the deformities. Unfortunately explicit guidelines for surgery are not clear. A multi-centre database with pre and postoperative patient data including photographic images and x-rays will be very useful in decision making. It will allow surgeons to find similar cases in the database that will help them in their decision making for surgical planning and execution. Furthermore it will provide extensive data to perform outcome studies, and to develop general treatment guidelines. Surgery for spinal deformities will become more evidence based and less dependent on the individual surgeons judgement.

Methods: A modern web-based database system, Scolisoft was developed for documenting patient data and curve characteristics. The system contains patient data (demographics etc), radiological data (AP, Lat, bending films), classification of curve patterns according to the often-used classification systems and information about the surgical procedure. It includes pre and postoperative radiological data and clinical photographs.

The patient data can also be stored and printed as a PDF-file, so that it can be used as a patient chart and for patient information purposes.

Scolisoft allows the user to select patients based on all the individual characteristics, e.g. curve classification. For pre-operative planning of a specific deformity, a cohort of patients with the same deformity (patient demographics, curve pattern, bending films etc) can be selected and the postoperative results viewed.

With the same selection tool, cohorts of patients can be selected for outcome studies.

Furthermore Scolisoft provides the possibility of discussing difficult cases with other spine surgeons using the system.

Finally, complications are registered according to the existing Scoliosis Research Society complication registry system.

Experiences: Data of more than 200 patients have been entered into the former PC application system. The current web based system has 60 cases that have been entered during its trial phase. Most cases have been adolescent or adult idiopathic scoliosis. Forty two surgeons have used the software and eight surgeons have participated in entering cases. The web-based version has shown to be very user friendly. Submitting the radiological and clinical images is easy (but takes some time). All data input is possible by a simple click of the mouse. Therefore it is relatively easy to learn.

The system already has the possibility for documenting other spine pathology such as sagittal plane deformities, fractures and spondylolisthesis.

Conclusion: Scolisoft is a powerful, user-friendly web-based registry for spinal deformities. It is a very useful tool in planning spinal deformity surgery and research. In this time of evidence-based medicine, it is time to take the planning of scoliosis surgery out of the realm of myth, and this database is a strong step in that direction.

A.W.J. Vreeling, St. Maartenskliniek, Hengstdal 3, 6522 JV Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-Mail: a.vreeling@maartenskliniek.nl

Correspondence should be addressed to Jeremy C T Fairbank at The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford OX7 7LD, UK