Estimation of radiographic joint space of the trapeziometacarpal joint with computed tomographic validation

David Jordan, John Elfar, Chian K. Kwoh, Zong Ming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Joint space width (JSW) is a common metric used to evaluate joint structure on plain radiographs. For the hand, quantitative techniques are available for evaluation of the JSW of finger joints; however, such techniques have been difficult to establish for the trapeziometacarpal (TMC) joint. This study aimed to develop a validated method for measuring the radiographic joint space of the healthy TMC joint. Approach: Computed tomographic scans were taken of 15 cadaveric hands. The location of a JSW analysis region on the articular surface of the first metacarpal was established in 3D space and standardized in a 2D projection. The standardized region was applied to simulated radiographic images. A correction factor was defined as the ratio of the CT-based and radiograph-based joint space measurements. Leave-one-out validation was used to correct the radiograph-based measurements. A t-test was used to evaluate the difference between CT-based and corrected radiograph-based measurements (α ¼ 0.05). Results: The CT-based and radiograph-based measurements of JSW were 3.61 ∓ 0.72 mm and 2.18 ∓ 0.40 mm, respectively. The correction factor for radiograph-based joint space was 1.69 ∓ 0.41. Before correction, the difference between the CT-based and radiograph-based joint space was 1.43 mm [95% CI: 0.99 − 1.86 mm; p < 0.001]. After correction, the difference was −0.11 mm [95% CI: −0.63 − 0.41 mm; p ¼ 0.669]. Conclusions: Corrected measurements of radiographic TMC JSW agreed well with CT-measured JSW. With in-vivo validation, the developed methodology has potential for automated and accurate radiographic measurement of TMC JSW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024001
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024


  • computed tomographic imaging
  • joint space
  • radiographic imaging
  • trapeziometacarpal joint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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