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Minimally Invasive Surgery
Volume 2011, Article ID 671308, 6 pages
Review Article

Arthroscopic Optical Coherence Tomography in Diagnosis of Early Arthritis

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cartilage Restoration Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, BST 1640 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

Received 28 October 2010; Revised 15 January 2011; Accepted 8 February 2011

Academic Editor: Stephen Kavic

Copyright © 2011 Michael J. O'Malley and Constance R. Chu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive, debilitating disease that is increasing in prevalence. The pathogenesis of OA is likely multifactorial but ultimately leads to progressive breakdown of collagen matrix and loss of chondrocytes. Current clinical modalities employed to evaluate cartilage health and diagnose osteoarthritis in orthopaedic surgery include, radiography, MRI, and arthroscopy. While these assessment methods can show cartilage fissuring and loss, they are limited in ability to diagnose cartilage injury and degeneration prior breakdown of the articular surface. An improved clinical ability to detect subsurface cartilage pathology is important for development and testing of chondroprotective and chondrorestorative treatments because the pathological changes following surface breakdown are generally considered to be irreversible. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), is a novel, non-destructive imaging technology capable of near-real time cross-sectional images of articular cartilage at high resolutions comparable to low power histology. This review discusses a series of bench to bedside studies supporting the potential use of OCT for enhanced clinical diagnosis and staging of early cartilage injury and degeneration. OCT was also found to be useful as a translations research tool to assist in clinical evaluation of novel quantitative MRI technologies for non-invasive evaluation of articular cartilage.