Rationale: The quality of medial tibial plateau (MT-Plateau) alignment is one of the key elements for accuracy and sensitivity to change of knee radiography in knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Aim: To evaluate the influence of the quality of the MT-Plateau alignment on the reproducibility of joint space width (JSW) measurement in knee radiographs.
Methods: One hundred and twenty-seven knee radiographs (99 OA), performed using a standardized radiographic procedure (Lyon schuss (LS) view). Evaluation of the quality of MT-Plateau alignment. Computerized measurement of the JSW, twice, 1-month apart, using a semi-automated and an automated method of measurement. Assessment of the reproducibility of repeated measurements: calculation of intra-observer coefficient of correlation, smallest detectable difference (SDD) and coefficient of variation (CV).
Results: MT-Plateau alignment was satisfactory in 99 radiographs (77.9%). Reproducibility was excellent in both satisfactory and non-satisfactory radiographs, irrespective of the method of measurement used. The automated measurement was more reproducible than the semi-automated one (CV 1.15% and 3.23%). SDD and CV were better in satisfactory than in non-satisfactory MT-Plateau aligned radiographs.
Conclusion: These results confirm that computer measurement of the medial tibio-femoral JSW, from LS digitized radiographs, is highly reproducible, irrespective of the quality of the radiograph. However, the quality of the MT-Plateau alignment influences the reproducibility of JSW measurement. The automated measurement was more reproducible than the semi-automated one.