University of Oulu

H.J. Nieminen, H.K. Gahunia, K.P.H. Pritzker, T. Ylitalo, L. Rieppo, S.S. Karhula, P. Lehenkari, E. Hæggström, S. Saarakkala, 3D histopathological grading of osteochondral tissue using contrast-enhanced micro-computed tomography, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Volume 25, Issue 10, 2017, Pages 1680-1689, ISSN 1063-4584,

3D histopathological grading of osteochondral tissue using contrast-enhanced micro-computed tomography

Saved in:
Author: Nieminen, H. J.1,2,3,4; Gahunia, H. K.5; Pritzker, K. P. H.2,6;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
3Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
4Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
5Orthopedic Science Consulting Services, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
6Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
7Infotech Doctoral Program, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Department of Surgery and Intensive Care, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
9Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.9 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-10-09


Objective: Histopathological grading of osteochondral (OC) tissue is widely used in osteoarthritis (OA) research, and it is relatively common in post-surgery in vitro diagnostics. However, relying on thin tissue section, this approach includes a number of limitations, such as: (1) destructiveness, (2) sample processing artefacts, (3) 2D section does not represent spatial 3D structure and composition of the tissue, and (4) the final outcome is subjective. To overcome these limitations, we recently developed a contrast-enhanced μCT (CEμCT) imaging technique to visualize the collagenous extracellular matrix (ECM) of articular cartilage (AC). In the present study, we demonstrate that histopathological scoring of OC tissue from CEμCT is feasible. Moreover, we establish a new, semi-quantitative OA μCT grading system for OC tissue.

Results: Pathological features were clearly visualized in AC and subchondral bone (SB) with μCT and verified with histology, as demonstrated with image atlases. Comparison of histopathological grades (OARSI or severity (0–3)) across the characterization approaches, CEμCT and histology, excellent (0.92, 95% CI = [0.84, 0.96], n = 30) or fair (0.50, 95% CI = [0.16, 0.74], n = 27) intra-class correlations (ICC), respectively. A new μCT grading system was successfully established which achieved an excellent cross-method (μCT vs histology) reader-to-reader intra-class correlation (0.78, 95% CI = [0.58, 0.89], n = 27).

Conclusions: We demonstrated that histopathological information relevant to OA can reliably be obtained from CEμCT images. This new grading system could be used as a reference for 3D imaging and analysis techniques intended for volumetric evaluation of OA pathology in research and clinical applications.

see all

Series: Osteoarthritis and cartilage
ISSN: 1063-4584
ISSN-E: 1522-9653
ISSN-L: 1063-4584
Volume: 25
Issue: 10
Pages: 1680 - 1689
DOI: 10.1016/j.joca.2017.05.021
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3126 Surgery, anesthesiology, intensive care, radiology
Funding: Financial support from the Academy of Finland (grants no. 268378 and 273571); European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement no. 336267; and the strategic funding of the University of Oulu are acknowledged. We thank Dr. Maarit Valkealahti for providing the human OC samples, Ms. Iida Kestilä and Mr. Sami Kauppinen for assistance in light microscopy and Ms. Tarja Huhta for preparing histology sections.
EU Grant Number: (336267) 3D-OA-HISTO - Development of 3D Histopathological Grading of Osteoarthritis
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 268378
Detailed Information: 268378 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
273571 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Osteoarthritis Research Society International. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (