Trapezium trabecular morphology in carpometacarpal arthritis

Arthur T. Lee, Ariel A. Williams, Julia Lee, Robert Cheng, Derek P. Lindsey, Amy L. Ladd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: In thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis, current evidence suggests that degenerative, bony remodeling primarily occurs within the trapezium. Nevertheless, the pathomechanics involved and the most common sites of wear remain controversial. Quantifying structural bone morphology characteristics with high-resolution computed tomography CT (micro-CT) infer regions of load transmission. Using micro-CT, we investigated whether predominant trabecular patterns exist in arthritic versus normal trapeziums. Methods: We performed micro-CT analysis on 13 normal cadaveric trapeziums and 16 Eaton stage III to IV trapeziums. We computationally divided each specimen into 4 quadrants: volar-ulnar, volar-radial, dorsal-radial, and dorsal-ulnar. Measurements of trabecular bone morphologic parameters included bone volume ratio, connectivity, trabecular number, and trabecular thickness. Using analysis of variance with post hoc Bonferroni/Dunn correction, we compared osteoarthritic and normal specimen quadrant measurements. Results: No significant difference existed in bone volume fraction between the osteoarthritic and normal specimens. Osteoarthritic trapeziums, however, demonstrated significantly higher trabecular number and connectivity than nonosteoarthritic trapeziums. Comparing the volar-ulnar quadrant of osteoarthritis and normal specimens collectively, this quadrant in both consistently possessed significantly higher bone volume fraction, trabecular number, and connectivity than the dorsal-radial and volar-radial quadrants. Conclusions: The significantly greater trabecular bone volume, thickness, and connectivity in the volar-ulnar quadrant compared with the dorsal-radial and dorsal-ulnar quadrants provides evidence that the greatest compressive loads at the first carpometacarpal joint occur at the volar-ulnar quadrant of the trapezium, representing a consistently affected region of wear in both normal and arthritic states. Clinical relevance: These findings suggest that trapezial trabecular morphology undergoes pathologic alteration. This provides indirect evidence that changes in load transmission occur with thumb carpometacarpal joint arthritis development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funded by the Williams Charitable trust; by National Institutes of Health (Small Business Innovation Research)/ National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Grant R43 EB003067-02A1 ; and by an OREF/DePuy/RJOS Career Development Award.


  • Abnormal loading
  • arthritis
  • bone morphology
  • thumb CMC joint
  • trapezium


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