The objective of this study was to validate the MRI-based joint contact modeling methodology in the radiocarpal joints by comparison of model results with invasive specimen-specific radiocarpal contact measurements from four cadaver experiments. We used a single validation criterion for multiple outcome measures to characterize the utility and overall validity of the modeling approach. For each experiment, a Pressurex film and a Tekscan sensor were sequentially placed into the radiocarpal joints during simulated grasp. Computer models were constructed based on MRI visualization of the cadaver specimens without load. Images were also acquired during the loaded configuration used with the direct experimental measurements. Geometric surface models of the radius, scaphoid and lunate (including cartilage) were constructed from the images acquired without the load. The carpal bone motions from the unloaded state to the loaded state were determined using a series of 3D image registrations. Cartilage thickness was assumed uniform at 1.0 mm with an effective compressive modulus of 4 MPa. Validation was based on experimental versus model contact area, contact force, average contact pressure and peak contact pressure for the radioscaphoid and radiolunate articulations. Contact area was also measured directly from images acquired under load and compared to the experimental and model data. Qualitatively, there was good correspondence between the MRI-based model data and experimental data, with consistent relative size, shape and location of radioscaphoid and radiolunate contact regions. Quantitative data from the model generally compared well with the experimental data for all specimens. Contact area from the MRI-based model was very similar to the contact area measured directly from the images. For all outcome measures except average and peak pressures, at least two specimen models met the validation criteria with respect to experimental measurements for both articulations. Only the model for one specimen met the validation criteria for average and peak pressure of both articulations; however the experimental measures for peak pressure also exhibited high variability. MRI-based modeling can reliably be used for evaluating the contact area and contact force with similar confidence as in currently available experimental techniques. Average contact pressure, and peak contact pressure were more variable from all measurement techniques, and these measures from MRI-based modeling should be used with some caution.
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