Thickness distribution of the glenohumeral joint cartilage: a quantitative study using computed tomography

Surg Radiol Anat. 2014 May;36(4):327-31. doi: 10.1007/s00276-013-1221-2. Epub 2013 Oct 31.


Purpose: Among late signs like sclerosis, cysts and osteophytes, alteration of cartilage is a common problem in osteoarthritis. To detect abnormal states in the glenohumeral joint, the physiologic distribution of the cartilage thickness must be known, which will allow physicians to better advise patients. High-resolution computed tomography (CT) data in soft tissue kernel provide highly accurate quantitative results and are a useful method to determine the geometrical situation of the glenohumeral joint. The objective of this study was to characterize the distribution of the thickness of the glenohumeral joint cartilage using CT.

Methods: To investigate the distribution of thickness of the joint cartilage, CT images in soft tissue kernel of nine specimens were analyzed using image visualization software. Statistical analysis of the obtained data was performed using the ANOVA test.

Results: Results showed different patterns in the glenoid cavity than in humeral head. Cartilage thickness in all glenoids showed maxima in the inferior and anterior portion, whereas central areas are covered with the thinnest cartilage layer. Maximum cartilage thickness in the humeral head was found in the central and superior parts.

Conclusion: We could show that the distribution of cartilage thickness in the glenohumeral joint is not homogenous and that there exist several reproducible patterns. Evaluation of cartilage thickness in the glenohumeral joint is of high interest in basic and clinical research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cadaver
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Shoulder Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder Joint / pathology
  • Software
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*