Human bipedalism appears to be a prerequisite for the development of idiopathic scoliosis. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of different positions of the human spine on vertebral rotation in vivo. Thirty asymptomatic volunteers underwent MRI scanning of the spine in three different body positions; upright, quadrupedal-like and supine. Vertebral rotation in the local transverse plane was measured and compared at different spinal levels between the three body positions. It was shown that in all three positions the mid and lower thoracic vertebrae were predominantly rotated to the right. However, rotation was significantly less in certain areas of the spine in the quadrupedal-like position than in both the standing upright and supine positions. We hypothesize that the erect position of the human spine, but also the supine position, increases dorsally directed shear loads that may increase the tendency of certain spinal segments to rotate.
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