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This paper describes a method of characterizing the torso shape deformity associated with scoliosis by both its type and severity. This problem is challenging because regular human torsos show an astounding range of variations that is only compounded by scoliosis, and it is difficult to isolate natural shape variations from those caused by scoliosis. Torso shape characterization is important in the clinical management of scoliosis because torso aesthetics is a key concern that influences a patient's quality of life. Our method involves modeling 3-D torso range images into structured sequences of 3-D spline curves stacked along the spine. We obtain local shape measures from points of maximal curvature (dominant points) along each torso cross section by evaluating the relative symmetry of the spline curve at that cross section. This results in a scalable characterization scheme for torso deformity type and a measure of torso deformity severity. We assess the accuracy and precision of this shape characterization scheme, and its relationship to the actual deformities present in the underlying spine.