Capturing the cervical spine shape: Angular measurements versus geometric morphometric methods

Einat Kedar, David Ezra, Ruth Pelleg-Kallevag, Dan Stein, Nathan Peled, Hila May, Israel Hershkovitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cervical spine manifests a wide shape variation. However, the traditional methods to evaluate the cervical spine curve were never tested against its actual shape. The study's main aim was to determine whether the shape classification of the cervical spine, based on traditional angular measurements, coincides with each other and with the shape captured by the 2D landmark-based geometric morphometric method. The study's second aim was to reveal the associations between the cervical spine shape and the demographic parameters, the head's position, and the spine's sagittal balance. CT scans of the cervical spine of 163 individuals were evaluated to achieve these goals. The shape was assessed by measuring the C2–C7 Cobb angle (CA), the C2–C7 posterior tangent angle (PTA), the curvedness of the arch, and by a 2D landmark-based geometric morphometric method. The position of the head and the sagittal balance of the spine were evaluated by measuring the foramen magnum-C2 Cobb angle (FMCA) and the T1 slope angle (T1SA), respectively. Based on the size of the angle measured, each individual was classified into one of the three cervical ‘shape groups’ (lordotic, straight, and kyphotic). We found that cervical lordosis was the dominant shape regardless of the measuring methods utilized (46.6%–54.6%), followed by straight neck (28.2%–30.1%), and kyphosis (15.3%–25.2%); however, about a third of the 163 individuals were classified into a different shape group using the CA and PTA methods. The cervical spine angle was sex-independent and age-dependent. The T1SA was significantly correlated with CA and PTA (r = 0.640 and r = 0.585, respectively; p < 0.001). In conclusion, the cervical spine shape evaluation is method-dependent and varies with age.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Anatomy
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • anatomic variation
  • cervical spine angle
  • cervical spine shape
  • cervical spine shape classification
  • spinal curvatures


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