Objective: Few methods exist to measure the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) or to identify people at high risk of developing OA. Striking radiographic changes include deformation of the femoral head and osteophyte growth, which are usually measured semiquantitatively following visual assessment. In this study, an active shape model (ASM) of the proximal femur was used to determine whether morphologic changes to the bone could be quantified and used as a marker of hip OA.
Methods: One hundred ten subjects who had no signs of radiographic hip OA at baseline (Kellgren/Lawrence [K/L] scores 0-1) were selected from the Rotterdam Study cohort of subjects ages > or = 55 years. To measure the progression of OA, subjects were followed up with radiographic assessment after 6 years. At the 6-year followup, 55 subjects had established OA (K/L score 3), and in 12 of these OA subjects, the progression of the disease required a total hip replacement (THR). Age- and sex-matched control subjects had a K/L score of 0 at followup. Using the ASM, subjects were assessed for shape changes in the femoral head and neck before, during, and after the development of radiographic OA. Scores of shape variance, or mode scores, were assigned for 10 modes of variation in each subject, and differences in mode scores were determined.
Results: During followup, significant changes in shape of the proximal femur occurred within the OA group from baseline to followup (P < 0.0001 for mode 1 and P = 0.002 for mode 6) but not within the control group. At baseline (all subjects having K/L scores 0-1), there were significant differences in mode 6 between the OA group and the control group (P = 0.020), and in modes 3 and 6 between the OA subjects who underwent THR and the remaining OA subjects (P = 0.012 and P = 0.019, respectively).
Conclusion: Compared with traditional scoring methods, the ASM can be used more precisely to quantify the deforming effect of OA on the proximal femur and to identify, at an earlier stage of disease, those subjects at highest risk of developing radiographic OA or needing a THR. The ASM may therefore be useful as an imaging biomarker in the assessment of patients with hip OA.