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Phys Med Biol. 2008 Aug 7;53(15):4123-35. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/53/15/008. Epub 2008 Jul 8.

Joint laminate degradation assessed by reflected ultrasound from the cartilage surface and osteochondral junction.

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  • 1School of Engineering Systems, IHBI, QUT, Brisbane, Australia.


The ability to quantify and qualify the progression of joint degeneration is becoming increasingly important in surgery. This paper examines the patterns of relative ultrasound reflection from normal, artificially and naturally degraded cartilage-on-bone, particularly investigating the potential of the ratio of reflection coefficients from the surface and osteochondral junction in distinguishing normal from osteoarthritic tissue. To this end, the reflection coefficients from the articular surface and osteochondral junction of normal cartilage-on-bone samples were calculated and compared to samples after the removal of proteoglycans, disruption of the collagen meshwork, delipidization of the articular surface and mechanical abrasion. Our results show that the large variation across normal and degraded joint samples negates the use of an isolated bone reflection measurement and to a lesser extent, an isolated surface reflection. The relative surface to bone reflections, calculated as a ratio of reflection coefficients, provided a more consistent and statistically significant (p < 0.001) method for distinguishing each type of degradation, especially osteoarthritic degradation, and due to the complementary relationship between surface and bone reflections was found to be an effective method for distinguishing degraded from normal tissue in the osteoarthritic joint, independent of the site of initiation of the osteoarthritic process.

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