High resolution imaging of normal and osteoarthritic cartilage with optical coherence tomography

J Rheumatol. 1999 Mar;26(3):627-35.


Objective: We describe optical coherence tomography (OCT), a high resolution micron scale imaging technology, for assessment of osteoarthritic articular cartilage microstructure. OCT is analogous to ultrasound, measuring the intensity of backreflected infrared light rather than acoustical waves.

Methods: OCT imaging was performed on over 100 sites on 20 normal and osteoarthritic cartilage specimens in vitro.

Results: Microstructures that were identified included fibrillations, fibrosis, cartilage thickness, and new bone growth at resolutions between 5 and 15 microm. In addition, the polarization sensitivity of imaging suggested a diagnostic role of polarization spectroscopy.

Conclusion: OCT represents an attractive new technology for intraarticular imaging due to its high resolution (greater than any available clinical technology), ability to be integrated into small arthroscopes, compact portable design, and relatively low cost.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arthrography / methods*
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Finger Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Finger Joint / pathology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Menisci, Tibial / diagnostic imaging
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Patella / diagnostic imaging
  • Patella / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Talus / diagnostic imaging
  • Talus / pathology
  • Toe Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Toe Joint / pathology
  • Tomography / instrumentation
  • Tomography / methods*