Bone and Joint Institute

Development of a computational technique to measure cartilage contact area

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Journal of Biomechanics





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Computational measurement of joint contact distributions offers the benefit of non-invasive measurements of joint contact without the use of interpositional sensors or casting materials. This paper describes a technique for indirectly measuring joint contact based on overlapping of articular cartilage computer models derived from CT images and positioned using in vitro motion capture data. The accuracy of this technique when using the physiological nonuniform cartilage thickness distribution, or simplified uniform cartilage thickness distributions, is quantified through comparison with direct measurements of contact area made using a casting technique. The efficacy of using indirect contact measurement techniques for measuring the changes in contact area resulting from hemiarthroplasty at the elbow is also quantified. Using the physiological nonuniform cartilage thickness distribution reliably measured contact area (ICC=0.727), but not better than the assumed bone specific uniform cartilage thicknesses (ICC=0.673). When a contact pattern agreement score (sagree) was used to assess the accuracy of cartilage contact measurements made using physiological nonuniform or simplified uniform cartilage thickness distributions in terms of size, shape and location, their accuracies were not significantly different (p>0.05). The results of this study demonstrate that cartilage contact can be measured indirectly based on the overlapping of cartilage contact models. However, the results also suggest that in some situations, inter-bone distance measurement and an assumed cartilage thickness may suffice for predicting joint contact patterns. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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