Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes for disability and functional decline of the body, especially in aging populations. It leads to a degradation of cartilage, which is a rubber-like structure that covers the bone heads, protects the bone from friction and serves as a shock absorber. Because of this cartilage loss, affected patients experience severe joint pain making walking difficult.
In an aging society, innovative tools for diagnosis and progression analysis for diseases such as osteoarthritis are on the rise. Researchers from the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and Stanford University are working on innovative methods to analyze knee cartilage health. Their overall goal is to provide tools for osteoarthritis diagnosis in early stages of the disease. They have developed a novel computed tomography (CT) system that makes it possible to analyze the knee cartilage under realistic weight-bearing conditions.
For the analysis of cartilage deformation over time, the standing patients are recorded multiple times in a window of 15 minutes. Segmentations of bone and cartilage in the resulting 3D gray scale images are used as the basis for cartilage thickness and deformation analysis.
Since the cartilage covering the head of the tibial bone has an irregular shape, it is not clearly defined how to measure its thickness. For this reason, the researchers from FAU compared different approaches for measuring tibial cartilage thickness that were chosen based on a profound literature review. In the course of their study, recently published in the Journal of Integrative Bioinformatics, they found that the investigated measures agree well in their resulting thickness distributions, but vary in the absolute thickness values.
A comprehensive analysis of deformation over time has not yet been conducted, however a trend can already be observed. Especially the medial part of the knee cartilage seems to change under weight and over time.
Until now, only healthy subjects have been analyzed. Further work of the researchers will focus on the investigation of cartilage deformation over time in scans of real osteoarthritis patients.
Read the original article here:
Jennifer Maier, Marianne Black, Serena Bonaretti, Bastian Bier, Bjoern Eskofier, Jang-Hwan Choi, Marc Levenston, Garry Gold, Rebecca Fahrig, Andreas Maier: Comparison of Different Approaches for Measuring Tibial Cartilage Thickness, 28.07.2017