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Early-stage treatments for osteoarthritis are attracting considerable interest as a means to delay, or avoid altogether, the pain and lack of mobility associated with late-stage disease, and the considerable burden that it places on the community. With the development of these treatments comes a need to assess the tissue to which they are applied, both in trialling of new treatments and as an aid to clinical decision making. Here, we measure a range of mechanical indentation, ultrasound and near-infrared spectroscopy parameters in normal and osteoarthritic bovine joints in vitro to describe the role of different physical phenomena in disease progression, using this as a basis to investigate the potential value of the techniques as clinical tools. Based on 72 samples we found that mechanical and ultrasound parameters showed differences between fibrillated tissue, macroscopically normal tissue in osteoarthritic joints, and normal tissue, yet did were unable to differentiate degradation beyond that which was visible to the naked eye. Near-infrared spectroscopy showed a clear progression of degradation across the visibly normal osteoarthritic joint surface and as such, was the only technique considered useful for clinical application.

Original publication




Journal article


Phys Med Biol

Publication Date





547 - 559


Animals, Biomechanical Phenomena, Cattle, Collagen, Disease Progression, Joints, Materials Testing, Mechanical Phenomena, Osteoarthritis, Proteoglycans, Spectrophotometry, Infrared, Ultrasonography