Musculoskeletal Medicine and PainORIGINAL ARTICLE

Ultrasonography to Assess the Efficacy of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment for Lumbar Spine Asymmetry

Jeffrey Winter, OMS III; Andrew Kimber, OMS III; Stuart Montenegro, OMS II; and Jing Gao, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: December 10, 2019

Accepted: February 10, 2020

Published: October 6, 2020

J Osteopath Med; 120(11): 761-769

Context: The effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) on the lumbar spine has been studied qualitatively, but quantitative measurement of the effects of OMT has not been thoroughly investigated.

Objectives: To quantitatively measure the palpated improvements of OMT on the lumbar spine using ultrasonography (US) and correlate palpatory diagnosis with US measurements of lumbar asymmetry.

Methods: From September to November 2018, we recruited 20 adult participants 18 years of age or older. Lumbar somatic dysfunction (SD) was identified via osteopathic palpation. US was then performed on all participants with standard machine settings (frequency, 7 MHz; depth, 7 cm; dynamic range, 60; tissue harmonic imaging; and single-image focus). Longitudinal images of each lumbar transverse process were recorded and saved bilaterally by an experienced radiologist and a medical student. The participant’s SD was then managed using OMT, including Still technique, myofascial release, muscle energy technique, high-velocity low-amplitude technique, functional positional release, balanced ligamentous tension, and counterstrain. Following OMT, US was performed again in the same method. Measurements of the saved US images were reviewed using a Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine viewer. These measurements were obtained by 3 separate observers (J.W., A.K., S.M.), using the same computer software. Statistical analysis included a 2-tailed paired t-test to analyze rotational asymmetry pre- and posttreatment, an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) to test intra- and interobserver reliability, and a Pearson correlation coefficient (PCC) to analyze the correlation between US findings and OMT.

Results: The difference in soft tissue thickness before and after OMT was significant (P=.014), indicating improvements in rotational asymmetry. Side-bending asymmetry did not demonstrate statistically significant improvement. US findings correlated with the physician’s palpatory rotational diagnosis (PCC=0.62, P=.004). ICC was greater than 0.9 for intra- and interobserver reliability tests of both US operation and offline image processing.

Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate that US is a feasible method of evaluating the efficacy of OMT. These results show good intra- and interobserver reliability of US acquisition and landmark measurement. Our study suggests that US assessment correlated closely with palpatory diagnosis. Our results also suggest that OMT can significantly improve lumbar rotational asymmetry, but did not improve side-bending asymmetry.

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