Effects of ultrasound beam angle and surface roughness on the quantitative ultrasound parameters of articular cartilage

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2009 Aug;35(8):1344-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2009.03.009. Epub 2009 Jun 21.


High-resolution arthroscopic ultrasound imaging provides a potential quantitative technique for the diagnostics of early osteoarthritis. However, an uncontrolled, nonperpendicular angle of an ultrasound beam or the natural curvature of the cartilage surface may jeopardize the reliability of the ultrasound measurements. We evaluated systematically the effect of inclining an articular surface on the quantitative ultrasound parameters. Visually intact (n = 8) and mechanically degraded (n = 6) osteochondral bovine patella samples and spontaneously fibrillated (n = 1) and spontaneously proteoglycan depleted (n = 1) osteochondral human tibial samples were imaged using a 50-MHz scanning acoustic system. The surface of each sample was adjusted to predetermined inclination angles (0, 2, 5 and 7 degrees ) and five ultrasound scan lines along the direction of the inclination were analyzed. For each scan line, reflection coefficient (R), integrated reflection coefficient (IRC) and ultrasound roughness index (URI) were calculated. Nonperpendicularity of the cartilage surface was found to affect R, IRC and URI significantly (p < 0.05). Importantly, all ultrasound parameters were able to distinguish (p < 0.05) the mechanically degraded samples from the intact ones even though the angle of incidence of the ultrasound beam varied between 0 and 5 degrees among the samples. Diagnostically, the present findings are important because the natural curvature of the articular surface varies, and a perfect perpendicularity between the ultrasound beam and the surface of the cartilage may be challenging to achieve in a clinical measurement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cartilage Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Cartilage Diseases / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / anatomy & histology
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cattle
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Ultrasonography