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Open Access Research article

An application of principal component analysis to the clavicle and clavicle fixation devices

Zubin J Daruwalla1*, Patrick Courtis2, Clare Fitzpatrick2, David Fitzpatrick2 and Hannan Mullett1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University College Dublin, Republic of Ireland

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2010, 5:21  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-5-21

Published: 26 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Principal component analysis (PCA) enables the building of statistical shape models of bones and joints. This has been used in conjunction with computer assisted surgery in the past. However, PCA of the clavicle has not been performed. Using PCA, we present a novel method that examines the major modes of size and three-dimensional shape variation in male and female clavicles and suggests a method of grouping the clavicle into size and shape categories.

Materials and methods

Twenty-one high-resolution computerized tomography scans of the clavicle were reconstructed and analyzed using a specifically developed statistical software package. After performing statistical shape analysis, PCA was applied to study the factors that account for anatomical variation.

Results

The first principal component representing size accounted for 70.5 percent of anatomical variation. The addition of a further three principal components accounted for almost 87 percent. Using statistical shape analysis, clavicles in males have a greater lateral depth and are longer, wider and thicker than in females. However, the sternal angle in females is larger than in males. PCA confirmed these differences between genders but also noted that men exhibit greater variance and classified clavicles into five morphological groups.

Discussion And Conclusions

This unique approach is the first that standardizes a clavicular orientation. It provides information that is useful to both, the biomedical engineer and clinician. Other applications include implant design with regard to modifying current or designing future clavicle fixation devices. Our findings support the need for further development of clavicle fixation devices and the questioning of whether gender-specific devices are necessary.