Local Area Cartilage Segmentation: A Semiautomated Novel Method of Measuring Cartilage Loss in Knee Osteoarthritis




To assess the responsiveness and reader time of a novel semiautomated tool to detect knee cartilage loss over 2 years in subjects with knee osteoarthritis.


A total of 122 subjects from the Osteoarthritis Initiative progression cohort were selected. A reader used the software method to segment cartilage on double-echo steady-state sequence scans in the medial compartment of the femur from the baseline and 24-month visits. Change in cartilage volume (ΔV) was measured at a fixed weight-bearing (WB) location with respect to the 3-dimensional coordinate system based on cylindrical coordinates. Change was measured for 5 regions of varying WB surface area centered on the fixed point. The average change (ΔV), the SD of ΔV, and the standardized response mean (SRM) are reported.


The SRM was −0.52 for the largest region and decreased in magnitude as smaller regions of cartilage were probed. The average evaluation time was <20 minutes per knee compartment, split approximately evenly between a technician and a trained reader.


The results establish that measurement of cartilage loss in a local region can be done efficiently and that the resultant measures are responsive to loss of cartilage over time. The coordinate system can potentially be used to objectively examine and establish a consistent location for all knees that is most responsive to change in cartilage volume. This technique can provide rapidly an objective quantitative measure of cartilage loss and could substantially reduce study costs for large trials and data sets.