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J Hand Surg Am. 2011 Dec;36(12):1950-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2011.09.013. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Comparison of third toe joint cartilage thickness to that of the finger proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint to determine suitability for transplantation in PIP joint reconstruction.

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Division of Plastic Surgery, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To compare the cartilage thickness of the third toe joints to the finger proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints to assess the appropriateness of using third toe osteochondral grafts for finger PIP joint reconstruction.


A laser scanner was used to construct 3-dimensional computer models of 6 matched cadaver right third toe PIP joints, condyles of the third toe middle phalanx, and finger PIP joints with and without cartilage. Cartilage distribution patterns were computed and analyzed for each surface. The cartilage thickness of both sides of the third toe PIP joint and the third toe middle phalanx condyles were compared to the PIP joint of the fingers. A total of 18 third toe and 48 finger joint surfaces were analyzed.


For the third toe middle phalanx condyles, the mean thickness was 0.20 ± 0.09 mm with a maximum of 0.52 ± 0.18 mm, and a coefficient of variation (CV%; a measure of uniformity of cartilage distribution) of 62. For the third toe proximal phalanx condyles, the mean cartilage thickness was 0.26 ± 0.10 mm with a maximum thickness of 0.56 ± 0.14 mm and a CV% of 44. The mean thickness, maximum thickness, and CV% of the finger proximal phalanx condyles was 0.43 ± 0.11 mm, 0.79 ± 0.16 mm, and 31, respectively. For the third toe middle phalanx base, the mean thickness was 0.28 ± 0.06 mm with a maximum of 0.47 ± 0.09 mm and a CV% of 34, compared to the finger middle phalanx base mean of 0.40 ± 0.12 mm with a maximum of 0.67 ± 0.14 mm and a CV% of 27.


There were significant differences in cartilage thickness between the third toe and the fingers in this study. However, fewer differences were observed with the third toe middle phalanx base cartilage thickness than with the third toe condyles in comparison to the fingers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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