Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

During the physical exam, your doctor will check your height and may ask you to bend forward from the waist while he or she views the spine from the side. With kyphosis, the rounding of the upper back may become more obvious in this position. Your doctor might also perform a neurological exam to check your reflexes and muscle strength.

Imaging tests

Depending upon your signs and symptoms, you may need:

  • X-rays. Plain X-rays are used to determine the degree of curvature and can detect deformities of the vertebrae, which helps identify the type of kyphosis.
  • Computerized tomography (CT scan). If more detail is required, your doctor might order a CT scan, which takes X-ray images from many different angles and then combines them to form cross-sectional images of internal structures.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If your doctor suspects a tumor or infection, he or she may request an MRI of your spine. MRI uses radio waves and a very strong magnet to produce detailed images of both bone and soft tissues.

Nerve tests

If you are experiencing any numbness or muscle weakness, your doctor may recommend several tests that can determine how well nerve impulses are traveling between your spinal cord and your extremities.

Lung function tests
If your kyphosis is severe, your doctor may want to check to see if the curve is interfering with your ability to breathe. He or she may order tests that measure how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can empty your lungs.

Jun. 14, 2012