Automatic Assessment of Lower-Limb Alignment from Computed Tomography

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2023 May 3;105(9):700-712. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.22.00890. Epub 2023 Mar 22.


Background: Preoperative planning of lower-limb realignment surgical procedures necessitates the quantification of alignment parameters by using landmarks placed on medical scans. Conventionally, alignment measurements are performed on 2-dimensional (2D) standing radiographs. To enable fast and accurate 3-dimensional (3D) planning of orthopaedic surgery, automatic calculation of the lower-limb alignment from 3D bone models is required. The goal of this study was to develop, validate, and apply a method that automatically quantifies the parameters defining lower-limb alignment from computed tomographic (CT) scans.

Methods: CT scans of the lower extremities of 50 subjects were both manually and automatically segmented. Thirty-two manual landmarks were positioned twice on the bone segmentations to assess intraobserver reliability in a subset of 20 subjects. The landmarks were also positioned automatically using a shape-fitting algorithm. The landmarks were then used to calculate 25 angles describing the lower-limb alignment for all 50 subjects.

Results: The mean absolute difference (and standard deviation) between repeat measurements using the manual method was 2.01 ± 1.64 mm for the landmark positions and 1.05° ± 1.48° for the landmark angles, whereas the mean absolute difference between the manual and fully automatic methods was 2.17 ± 1.37 mm for the landmark positions and 1.10° ± 1.16° for the landmark angles. The manual method required approximately 60 minutes of manual interaction, compared with 12 minutes of computation time for the fully automatic method. The intraclass correlation coefficient showed good to excellent reliability between the manual and automatic assessments for 23 of 25 angles, and the same was true for the intraobserver reliability in the manual method. The mean for the 50 subjects was within the expected range for 18 of the 25 automatically calculated angles.

Conclusions: We developed a method that automatically calculated a comprehensive range of 25 measurements that defined lower-limb alignment in considerably less time, and with differences relative to the manual method that were comparable to the differences between repeated manual assessments. This method could thus be used as an efficient alternative to manual assessment of alignment.

Level of evidence: Diagnostic Level III . See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity* / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*