A novel approach to 3D bone creation in minutes : 3D ultrasound

Bone Joint J. 2021 Jun;103-B(6 Supple A):81-86. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.103B6.BJJ-2020-2455.R1.


Aims: The objective of this study is to assess the use of ultrasound (US) as a radiation-free imaging modality to reconstruct 3D anatomy of the knee for use in preoperative templating in knee arthroplasty.

Methods: Using an US system, which is fitted with an electromagnetic (EM) tracker that is integrated into the US probe, allows 3D tracking of the probe, femur, and tibia. The raw US radiofrequency (RF) signals are acquired and, using real-time signal processing, bone boundaries are extracted. Bone boundaries and the tracking information are fused in a 3D point cloud for the femur and tibia. Using a statistical shaping model, the patient-specific surface is reconstructed by optimizing bone geometry to match the point clouds. An accuracy analysis was conducted for 17 cadavers by comparing the 3D US models with those created using CT. US scans from 15 users were compared in order to examine the effect of operator variability on the output.

Results: The results revealed that the US bone models were accurate compared with the CT models (root mean squared error (RM)S: femur, 1.07 mm (SD 0.15); tibia, 1.02 mm (SD 0.13). Additionally, femoral landmarking proved to be accurate (transepicondylar axis: 1.07° (SD 0.65°); posterior condylar axis: 0.73° (SD 0.41°); distal condylar axis: 0.96° (SD 0.89°); medial anteroposterior (AP): 1.22 mm (SD 0.69); lateral AP: 1.21 mm (SD 1.02)). Tibial landmarking errors were slightly higher (posterior slope axis: 1.92° (SD 1.31°); and tubercle axis: 1.91° (SD 1.24°)). For implant sizing, 90% of the femora and 60% of the tibiae were sized correctly, while the remainder were only one size different from the required implant size. No difference was observed between moderate and skilled users.

Conclusion: The 3D US bone models were proven to be closely matched compared with CT and suitable for preoperative planning. The 3D US is radiation-free and offers numerous clinical opportunities for bone visualization rapidly during clinic visits, to enable preoperative planning with implant sizing. There is potential to extend its application to 3D dynamic ligament balancing, and intraoperative registration for use with robots and navigation systems. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(6 Supple A):81-86.

Keywords: Knee; Medical imaging; Orthopaedics; Ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Anatomic Landmarks
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Patient-Specific Modeling*
  • Radio Waves
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography / methods*