Objective: To evaluate progression of joint space narrowing in radiographs of osteoarthritic (OA) knees imaged in both the standing anteroposterior (AP) and the Lyon schuss positions, using alternative methods to measure joint space width (JSW).
Methods: Standing AP (extended view) and Lyon schuss (posteroanterior [PA] view, with 20-30 degrees of flexion) radiographic images of 58 OA knees were obtained twice (at baseline and 2 years later). With both methods, fluoroscopy was used to align the anterior and posterior margins of the medial or lateral tibial plateau with the central x-ray beam. Minimum JSW, mean JSW, and joint space area (JSA) of the medial or lateral femorotibial joint space were measured using a new digital image analysis system. The effects of knee flexion versus extension and parallel versus nonparallel tibial plateau alignment were evaluated with respect to the reproducibility of JSW in repeated examinations (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC]), the mean of within-knee standard deviations of repeated measurements (SD(m)), and the sensitivity to changes in JSW in serial radiographs (standardized response mean [SRM]).
Results: The performance of the new software, as assessed by the reproducibility of repeated measurements of minimum JSW on the same image, was excellent in both the standing AP (ICC = 0.98) and Lyon schuss radiographs (2 SD(m) = 0.5 mm, ICC = 0.98). The reproducibility in different radiographs of the same knee was not evaluated. However, over 2 years, the mean (+/- SD) decrease in the minimum JSW of OA knees was 0.17 +/- 0.75 mm in standing AP radiographs (P not significant) and 0.24 +/- 0.50 mm in Lyon schuss views (P = 0.007), with SRMs of 0.23 and 0.48, respectively. The quality of alignment of the tibial plateau was satisfactory (<1 mm between anterior and posterior margins of the medial tibial plateau) in 66% of the pairs of Lyon schuss radiographs and in 57% of the pairs of standing AP radiographs. In the Lyon schuss radiographs, SRM was highly dependent on tibial plateau alignment. Minimum JSW was more sensitive to change than was mean JSW or JSA, in paired Lyon schuss radiographs that exhibited satisfactory alignment.
Conclusion: Compared with the standing AP radiograph, PA imaging of the knee in 20-30 degrees flexion (the schuss position) increases the reproducibility of radiographic JSW measurements in OA knees and the sensitivity to change in JSW in serial radiographs. Sensitivity to change in minimum JSW is notably increased by aligning the medial tibial plateau with the central x-ray beam in the Lyon schuss radiograph.