Noninvasive technique for measuring in vivo three-dimensional carpal bone kinematics



Our present knowledge of the three-dimensional kinematic behavior of skeletal joints has been largely acquired with cadaveric models and use of invasive monitoring. In the wrist, the small size and complex motion of the carpal bones present a difficult challenge for implanted internal or external marker systems. This paper describes a technique for quantifying the three-dimensional kinematics of the wrist and carpal bones in vivo using noninvasive computed tomographic imaging. An error analysis employing a cadaveric specimen suggests that noninvasive carpal kinematics can be measured with an accuracy within 2° of rotation and 1 mm of translation along a helical axis of motion. The in vivo application of this technique is illustrated with a single normal individual. Potential applications include the quantification of normal wrist motion, analysis of pathomechanics, and evaluation of surgical intervention. The technique is also applicable to other joints and imaging modalities.