Swelling behavior is an electrochemical mechanical property of articular cartilage. It plays an important role in weight bearing and joint lubrication. In this study, the altered transient and inhomogeneous swelling behavior of the degenerated articular cartilage was observed and quantified in situ using ultrasound. Three groups of bovine patellar articular cartilage samples (n = 10 × 3) were obtained and digested by trypsin for 10, 20 and 30 min respectively to mimic different levels of degeneration. The osmotic-free shrinkage and swelling behavior induced by changing the concentration of the bathing saline solution from 0.15 M to 2 M and then back to 0.15 M were characterized using high-frequency ultrasound (central frequency = 35 MHz) before and after digestion. It was found that the degenerated cartilage specimens showed a weaker shrinkage-swelling behavior compared with the normal cartilage samples. However, no significant differences in the peak shrinkage or swelling strains were observed between different groups. The absolute values of the peak shrinkage strain significantly (p < 0.05) decreased by 45.4%, 42.1% and 50.6% respectively after the trypsin digestion for 10, 20 and 30 min, but such significance was not demonstrated for the peak swelling strains. Due to the potential alterations in the collagen-PG matrix during trypsin digestion, the correlation between the swelling strain and the shrinkage strain of the degenerated samples changed slightly in comparison with the normal samples. The proposed ultrasound method has been successfully used to measure the transient and inhomogeneous swelling behavior of the degenerated articular cartilage and has the potential for the characterization of osteoarthritis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging