The objective of this study was to quantitatively assess the surface curvature of the articular cartilage from low-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, and to investigate its role in populations with varying radiographic signs of osteoarthritis (OA), cross-sectionally and longitudinally. The curvature of the articular surface of the medial tibial compartment was estimated both on fine and coarse scales using two different automatic methods which are both developed from an automatic 3D segmentation algorithm. Cross-sectionally (n=288), the surface curvature for both the fine- and coarse-scale estimates were significantly higher in the OA population compared with the healthy population, with P\u003c0.001 and P\u003c\u003c0.001, respectively. For the longitudinal study (n=245), there was a significant increase in fine-scale curvature for healthy and borderline OA populations (P\u003c0.001), and in coarse-scale curvature for severe OA populations (P\u003c0.05). Fine-scale curvature could predict progressors using the estimates of those healthy at baseline (P\u003c0.001). The inter-scan precision was 2.2 and 6.5 (mean CV) for the fine- and coarse scale curvature measures, respectively. The results showed that quantitative curvature estimates from low-field MRI at different scales could potentially become biomarkers targeted at different stages of OA.
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