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01-12-2014 | Research | Uitgave 1/2014 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2014

Measurement of three-dimensional morphological characteristics of the calcaneus using CT image post-processing

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2014
Minfei Qiang, Yanxi Chen, Kun Zhang, Haobo Li, Hao Dai
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1757-1146-7-19) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

Each Author has contributed substantially to study design, literature research, data acquisition, data analysis, and manuscript drafting. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.



Although computed tomography (CT) with three-dimensional (3D) rendering of the calcaneus is used for diagnostic evaluation of disorders, morphological measurements for the calcaneus are mostly based on a two-dimensional plane. The purposes of this study were to design a method for 3D morphological measurements of the normal calcaneus based on CT post-processing techniques, to measure morphological parameters in the male and female groups and describe gender differences of the parameters, and to investigate the reliability of such measurements.


One hundred and seventy-nine patients (83 men and 96 women) with a mean age of 40.6 (range, 21 to 59) years who underwent CT scans for their feet were reviewed retrospectively. The 3D structure of a normal calcaneus after shaded surface display reconstruction was extracted by interactive and automatic segmentation. Morphological measurements were achieved by means of a 3D measurement method based on CT image post-processing. Lengths and heights of the main parts of the calcaneus, Gissane’s angle, Böhler’s angle and the area of articular facet were worked out in 3D space. Gender-related size differences of parameters were compared using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), adjusting for body height. Intra-observer and inter-observer reliabilities were assessed using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and the root mean square standard deviation (RMS-SD) for precision study.


A large range of measurement values was found. Only the length of the anterior process was without gender difference (p > 0.05). The other parameters in the male group were greater than those in the female group (p < 0.01 for each, ANCOVA). All parameters had excellent reliability and reproducibility (ICC > 0.8). Precision was acceptable for intra-observer RMS-SD (linear, angular and areal measurements no more than 0.6 mm, 1.2° and 0.25 mm2, respectively). Inter-observer RMS-SD ranged from 0.4 to 1.6 mm for linear measurements, 1.2 to 2.5° for angles and 0.24 to 0.40 mm2 for areas.


Three-dimensional morphological measurement based on a CT post-processing technique was highly reliable and repeatable for calcaneal anatomic morphological measurement. The current data will be helpful for anatomic reduction of calcaneal fractures and calcaneal malunion.

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Extra materiaal
Additional file 1: The calcaneus could be rotated with any viewing angle while being measured in a user interface. The anatomic landmarks were shown in various views including lateral view, anterior view, superior view and so on. All distances, angles and area were measured in 3D space. (MP4 13 MB)
Authors’ original file for figure 1
Authors’ original file for figure 2
Authors’ original file for figure 3
Authors’ original file for figure 4
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