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01.12.2016 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Medical Imaging 1/2016

Development of a morphology-based modeling technique for tracking solid-body displacements: examining the reliability of a potential MRI-only approach for joint kinematics assessment

BMC Medical Imaging > Ausgabe 1/2016
Niladri K. Mahato, Stephane Montuelle, John Cotton, Susan Williams, James Thomas, Brian Clark
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

NM conceived the study idea and design, performed image acquisition, data analysis, drafting and revision of manuscript. SM supported in designing the study, development of technical strategy, draft of manuscript. JC provided inputs on data analysis and drafting of manuscript. SW helped with the study design and to draft and revise the manuscript. JT assisted with study design and in editing the manuscript. BC contributed with data analysis, major edits on original manuscript and the revision. All authors read and approved the revisions and the final version of the manuscript.



Single or biplanar video radiography and Roentgen stereophotogrammetry (RSA) techniques used for the assessment of in-vivo joint kinematics involves application of ionizing radiation, which is a limitation for clinical research involving human subjects. To overcome this limitation, our long-term goal is to develop a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-only, three dimensional (3-D) modeling technique that permits dynamic imaging of joint motion in humans. Here, we present our initial findings, as well as reliability data, for an MRI-only protocol and modeling technique.


We developed a morphology-based motion-analysis technique that uses MRI of custom-built solid-body objects to animate and quantify experimental displacements between them. The technique involved four major steps. First, the imaging volume was calibrated using a custom-built grid. Second, 3-D models were segmented from axial scans of two custom-built solid-body cubes. Third, these cubes were positioned at pre-determined relative displacements (translation and rotation) in the magnetic resonance coil and scanned with a T1 and a fast contrast-enhanced pulse sequences. The digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) images were then processed for animation. The fourth step involved importing these processed images into an animation software, where they were displayed as background scenes. In the same step, 3-D models of the cubes were imported into the animation software, where the user manipulated the models to match their outlines in the scene (rotoscoping) and registered the models into an anatomical joint system. Measurements of displacements obtained from two different rotoscoping sessions were tested for reliability using coefficient of variations (CV), intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), Bland-Altman plots, and Limits of Agreement analyses.


Between-session reliability was high for both the T1 and the contrast-enhanced sequences. Specifically, the average CVs for translation were 4.31 % and 5.26 % for the two pulse sequences, respectively, while the ICCs were 0.99 for both. For rotation measures, the CVs were 3.19 % and 2.44 % for the two pulse sequences with the ICCs being 0.98 and 0.97, respectively. A novel biplanar imaging approach also yielded high reliability with mean CVs of 2.66 % and 3.39 % for translation in the x- and z-planes, respectively, and ICCs of 0.97 in both planes.


This work provides basic proof-of-concept for a reliable marker-less non-ionizing-radiation-based quasi-dynamic motion quantification technique that can potentially be developed into a tool for real-time joint kinematics analysis.
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