Quantitative cartilage imaging using spectral photon-counting detector based computed tomography

Kishore Rajendran, Shengzhen Tao, Amy Benike, Shuai Leng, Cynthia McCollough

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) in the extracellular matrix of the articular cartilage are biomarkers of cartilage health. Loss of GAG has been associated with early stage osteoarthritis, with zonal depletion of intra-articular GAG levels occurring prior to cartilage degeneration. Detecting this biochemical change in articular cartilage may facilitate early diagnosis of osteoarthritis. GAG is negatively-charged and repels anionic contrast media. Increased uptake of anionic contrast agents could be correlated with depleted GAG levels in the cartilage. Photon-counting detector (PCD) based computed tomography (CT) offers high-resolution imaging and x-ray energy discrimination capabilities. This allows delineation of finer anatomical structures, and the generation of quantitative material maps using energy-resolved CT data. In this study, we demonstrate quantitative GAG imaging in porcine cartilage using a research whole-body PCD-CT system and an anionic contrast agent. Hind knee joints were harvested from euthanized pigs. GAG depletion mimicking early-OA was induced using trypsin treatment. Both the control group and the trypsin-treated group were incubated in an anionic gadolinium contrast prior to PCD-CT scanning. The specimens were scanned at ultra-high resolution using the PCD-CT system at 120kV, 330mAs, and [25, 51] keV energy thresholds. An image-domain material decomposition was employed to generate the mass density map for gadolinium in cartilage using energy-resolved PCD-CT data. The results showed significantly higher gadolinium uptake (p < 0.0001) in the trypsin-treated specimens, compared to the control specimens. We demonstrated high-resolution ex vivo cartilage imaging using PCD-CT to quantify gadolinium uptake in articular cartilage as an inverse marker of GAG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Imaging 2019
Subtitle of host publicationBiomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging
EditorsBarjor Gimi, Andrzej Krol
ISBN (Electronic)9781510625532
StatePublished - 2019
EventMedical Imaging 2019: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging - San Diego, United States
Duration: Feb 19 2019Feb 21 2019

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


ConferenceMedical Imaging 2019: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • Photon-counting detectors
  • computed tomography
  • glycosaminoglycans
  • multi-energy
  • trypsin digestion
  • ultra-high resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative cartilage imaging using spectral photon-counting detector based computed tomography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this