High resolution micro arthrography of hard and soft tissues in a murine model

X. I. Gu, P. E. Palacio-Mancheno, D. J. Leong, Y. A. Borisov, E. Williams, N. Maldonado, D. Laudier, R. J. Majeska, M. B. Schaffler, H. B. Sun, L. Cardoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Recent developments on high resolution micro computed tomography (μCT) allow imaging of soft tissues in small animal joints. Nevertheless, μCT images cannot distinguish soft tissues from synovial fluid due to their similar mass density, limiting the 3D assessment of soft tissues volume and thickness. This study aimed to evaluate a lead chromate contrast agent for μCΤ arthrography of rat knee joints ex vivo. Design: Intact tibiofemoral rat joints were injected with the contrast agent at different concentrations and imaged using a μCT at 2.7 μm isotropic voxel size. Cartilage thickness was measured using an automated procedure, validated against histological measurements, and analyzed as a function of μCT image resolution. Changes in hard and soft tissues were also analyzed in tibiofemoral joints 4 weeks after surgical destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM). Results: The contrast agent diffused well throughout the whole knee cavity without penetrating the tissues, therefore providing high contrast at the boundaries between soft tissues and synovial fluid space. Thickness analysis of cartilage demonstrated a high similarity between histology and μ-arthrography approaches (R2 = 0.90). Four weeks after surgical DMM, the development of osteophytes (Oph) and cartilage ulcerations was recognizable with μCT, as well as a slight increase in trabecular bone porosity, and decrease in trabecular thickness. Conclusions: A lead chromate-based contrast agent allowed discriminating the synovial fluid from soft tissues of intact knee joints, and thus made possible both qualitative and quantitative assessment of hard and soft tissues in both intact and DMM tibiofemoral joints using high resolution μCT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1019
Number of pages9
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • 3D Cartilage morphology
  • Contrast agent
  • Meniscus
  • Micro arthrography
  • Micro computed tomography
  • Murine knee joint
  • Surgical destabilization of the medial


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