Systematic review of computed tomography parameters used for the assessment of subchondral bone in osteoarthritis

Jemima E. Schadow, David Maxey, Toby O. Smith, Mikko A. J. Finnilä, Sarah L. Manske, Neil A. Segal, Andy Kin On Wong, Rachel A. Davey, Tom Turmezei, Kathryn S. Stok

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: To systematically review the published parameters for the assessment of subchondral bone in human osteoarthritis (OA) using computed tomography (CT) and gain an overview of current practices and standards.  

Design: A literature search of Medline, Embase and Cochrane Library databases was performed with search strategies tailored to each database (search from 2010 to January 2023). The search results were screened independently by two reviewers against pre-determined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Studies were deemed eligible if conducted in vivo/ex vivo in human adults (>18 years) using any type of CT to assess subchondral bone in OA. Extracted data from eligible studies were compiled in a qualitative summary and formal narrative synthesis.  

Results: This analysis included 202 studies. Four groups of CT modalities were identified to have been used for subchondral bone assessment in OA across nine anatomical locations. Subchondral bone parameters measuring similar features of OA were combined in six categories: (i) microstructure, (ii) bone adaptation, (iii) gross morphology (iv) mineralisation, (v) joint space, and (vi) mechanical properties.  

Conclusions: Clinically meaningful parameter categories were identified as well as categories with the potential to become relevant in the clinical field. Furthermore, we stress the importance of quantification of parameters to improve their sensitivity and reliability for the evaluation of OA disease progression and the need for standardised measurement methods to improve their clinical value.  
Original languageEnglish
Article number116948
Early online date3 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2023


  • Computed tomography
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Subchondral bone
  • Systematic review

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