Orthopaedic measurements with computed radiography. Methodological development, accuracy, and radiation dose with special reference to the weight-bearing lower extremity and the dislocating patella

University dissertation from Röntgenavdelningen, Lasarettet, 271 82 Ystad, Sweden

Abstract: The overall aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a measurement system for computed radiography (CR) and Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), permitting measurements of long distances and angles in and between related images. The developed measurement system, which was based on the QUESTOR Precision Radiography (QPR) system, was applied to the weight-bearing knee with special reference to the dislocating patella. The QPR system modified for CR fulfilled the criteria for measuring the weight-bearing knee. The special measuring assistance tools that were developed were important for the implementation of CR and PACS, particularly in workstations programmed for musculoskeletal radiology. The energy imparted to the patient was reduced by 98% at the lowest exposure of the CR –system, compared with our conventional analogue method, without loss of diagnostic accuracy. The CR technique creates a possibility, to an extent not previously feasible, to differentiate the exposure parameters (and thus minimise the radiation dose to the patient) by carefully considering the purpose of the examination. A radiographic method for measuring the rotation of the femur and the tibia, the Q-angle, and the patellar translation was developed and applied to healthy volunteers. The introduced patellar variables have yielded new insights into the complex sequence of motions between the femur, tibia, and patella. The patients with a dislocating patella were subdivided into one “clean” group of spontaneous dislocations and one group with various traumas in the history, which thus resulted in two groups with distinct radiographic differences. The Q-angle was decreased in knees that had suffered dislocations, and the traditional surgical treatment with a further reduction of the Q-angle must be challenged. The use of clinical measurements of the Q-angle was not an optimal way to evaluate the mechanical alignment in the patellofemoral joint under physiological conditions. In this study, we have proved that the developed method for CR and PACS is a useful technique for measurements in and between related images, and is superior to the conventional analogue technique.

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