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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Jan;21(1):60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2012.09.007. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

Cationic agent contrast-enhanced computed tomography imaging of cartilage correlates with the compressive modulus and coefficient of friction.

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  • 1Center for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, United States.



The aim of this study is to evaluate whether contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) attenuation, using a cationic contrast agent (CA4+), correlates with the equilibrium compressive modulus (E) and coefficient of friction (μ) of ex vivo bovine articular cartilage.


Correlations between CECT attenuation and E (Group 1, n = 12) and μ (Group 2, n = 10) were determined using 7 mm diameter bovine osteochondral plugs from the stifle joints of six freshly slaughtered, skeletally mature cows. The equilibrium compressive modulus was measured using a four-step, unconfined, compressive stress-relaxation test, and the coefficients of friction were determined from a torsional friction test. Following mechanical testing, samples were immersed in CA4+, imaged using μCT, rinsed, and analyzed for glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content using the 1,9-dimethylmethylene blue (DMMB) assay.


The CECT attenuation was positively correlated with the GAG content of bovine cartilage (R(2) = 0.87, P < 0.0001 for Group 1 and R(2) = 0.74, P = 0.001 for Group 2). Strong and significant positive correlations were observed between E and GAG content (R(2) = 0.90, P < 0.0001) as well as CECT attenuation and E (R(2) = 0.90, P < 0.0001). The CECT attenuation was negatively correlated with the three coefficients of friction: CECT vs μ(static) (R(2) = 0.71, P = 0.002), CECT vs μ(static_equilibrium) (R(2) = 0.79, P < 0.001), and CECT vs μ(kinetic) (R(2) = 0.69, P = 0.003).


CECT with CA4+ is a useful tool for determining the mechanical properties of ex vivo cartilage tissue as the attenuation significantly correlates with the compressive modulus and coefficient of friction.

Copyright © 2012 Osteoarthritis Research Society International. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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