- Methods for Evaluating Articular Cartilage Quality
To evaluate articular cartilage health, pathology, and therapeutic efficacy, it is imperative that appropriate assessment methodologies are developed and used. Assessments can be divided, in general, into qualitative, semiquantitative, and quantitative assays. Qualitative assessments, such as gross morphology and histology, can often provide visual information rapidly and in toto. Other qualitative assessments include various imaging modalities, for example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer-assisted tomography (CT), which are noninvasive and therefore useful for sequential assessment. Features from qualitative assessments can often be derived to allow for semiquantitative assessments, such as those employed in standardized cartilage evaluation indices. Finally, quantitative assays include a plethora of biochemical methods spanning a wide range of specificity and biomechanical methods based on continuum biomechanical models of cartilage. Semiquantitative and quantitative results are useful when comparing various treatments on the basis of rigorous statistics. Judicious application of these techniques in animal models and in clinical trials is important for the translation of emerging articular cartilage therapies.