Segmentation of medical image data is often used for the construction of computational models to study the mechanics of diarthrodial joints such as the hip and knee. The analyst must demonstrate that the reconstructed geometry is an accurate representation of the true continuum to ensure model validity. This becomes especially important for computational modeling of joint contact, which requires accurate reconstruction of articular cartilage. Although volumetric computed tomography (CT) is often used to image diarthrodial joints, the lower bounds for detecting articular cartilage thickness and the influence of imaging parameters on the ability to image cartilage have not been reported. The use of contrast agent (CT arthrography) is necessary to visualize the surface of articular cartilage in live patients. Thus, it is of primary interest to quantify the accuracy of CT arthrography to demonstrate the feasibility of patient-specific modeling. The objectives of this study were to assess the accuracy and detection limits of CT for measuring simulated cartilage thickness using a phantom and to quantify changes in accuracy due to alterations in contrast agent concentration, imaging plane direction, spatial resolution and joint spacing.

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