University of Oulu

Shakya, B.R., Tiulpin, A., Saarakkala, S., Turunen, S. and Thevenot, J. (2020), Detection of experimental cartilage damage with acoustic emissions technique: An in vitro equine study. Equine Vet J, 52: 152-157. doi:10.1111/evj.13132

Detection of experimental cartilage damage with acoustic emissions technique : an in vitro equine study

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Author: Shakya, B. R.1; Tiulpin, A.1; Saarakkala, S.1,2,3;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Research Unit of Cancer and Translational Medicine, Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2019-09-30


Background: In horses, osteoarthritis (OA) mostly affects metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal (fetlock) joints. The current modalities used for diagnosis of equine limb disorders lack ability to detect early OA. Here, we propose a new alternative approach to assess experimental cartilage damage in fetlock joint using Acoustic Emissions (AE).

Objectives: To evaluate the potential of AE technique in diagnosing OA and see how AE signals changes with increasing severity of OA.

Study design: An in vitro experimental study.

Methods: A total of 16 distal limbs (8 forelimbs and 8 hindlimbs) from six Finn horses were collected from an abattoir and fitted in a custom‐made frame allowing fetlock joint bending. Eight fetlock joints were opened, and cartilage surface was progressively damaged mechanically three times using sandpaper to mimic mild, moderate and severe OA. The remaining eight fetlock joints were opened and closed without any mechanical procedure, serving as controls. Before cartilage alteration, synovial fluid was aspirated, mixed with phosphate‐buffered saline solution, and then reinjected before suturing for constant joint lubrication. For each simulated condition of OA severity, a force was applied to the frame and then released to mimic joint flexion and extension. AE signals were acquired using air microphones.

Results: A strong association was found between the joint condition and the power of AE signals analysed in 1.5–6 kHz range. The signal from both forelimb and hindlimb joints followed a similar pattern for increased cartilage damage. There were statistically significant differences between each joint condition progressively (generalised linear mixed model, P<0.001) in limbs with in vitro cartilage damage of varying severity while the control limbs did not show any changes.

Main limitations: Small sample size using in vitro, mechanically induced cartilage damage.

Conclusion: The AE technique presented here could differentiate the severity of fetlock joint cartilage damage. The consistent results for each simulated condition suggest there is potential for this method in the diagnosis of OA.

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Series: Equine veterinary journal
ISSN: 0425-1644
ISSN-E: 2042-3306
ISSN-L: 0425-1644
Volume: 52
Issue: 1
Pages: 152 - 157
DOI: 10.1111/evj.13132
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
413 Veterinary science
Funding: Business Finland (TEKES, grant no. 1241/31/2016) and Sigrid Juselius Foundation.
Copyright information: © 2019 The Authors. Equine Veterinary Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of EVJ Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.