Bone and Joint Institute


Regional variations in cartilage thickness of the radial head: Implications for prosthesis design

Document Type


Publication Date



Journal of Hand Surgery

First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



© 2015 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Purpose To characterize the regional variations in cartilage thickness around the radial head. Methods We dissected 27 cadaveric radii and scanned them with computed tomography in neutral position. Three-dimensional cartilage and subchondral bone surface models were generated from computed tomography scans and 2 independent observers processed them through a computer program to obtain cartilage thickness measurements. These measurements were taken at 41 predetermined landmarks around the periphery of the radial head and within the articular dish. Results At the periphery of the radial head, cartilage was thickest in the posteromedial region. Thickness values within the articular dish were similar but increased toward the rim. Regional variations within the rim (range, 0.76-1.73 mm) were also detected with the thickest region located anteriorly and thinnest region laterally. In addition, cartilage was significantly thicker in male relative to female specimens. Conclusions Regional variations in cartilage thickness are present around the periphery and rim and within the articular dish of the radial head. Clinical relevance Cartilage thickness across the articular dish may contribute to dish depth and the radius of curvature. This may be clinically important for the design of anatomic implants, because accounting for such subtle contours could help to restore radiocapitellar concavity-compression stability better.

Find in your library