To compare computed tomography (CT) with digital radiography for the detection of osteoarthritis (OA) of the first carpometacarpal (CMC1) and scaphotrapeziotrapezoid (STT) joint. We retrospectively identified patients who were assessed for CMC1 OA or STT OA at our hand surgery outpatient clinic between January 2008 and March 2011, and who had both a digital radiograph and a CT scan of the hand within a 3-month period. CT and radiographic images were scored independently by two musculoskeletal radiologists for joint space narrowing (JSN), osteophytes, subchondral sclerosis, bone cysts, and erosions in the CMC1 and STT joints. Thirty patients were identified. The inter-reader reliability of CT for the detection of CMC1 OA (ICC 1.00) and STT OA (ICC 0.80) was higher than radiography (ICC's 0.15 and 0.45). In comparison with their own radiographical scoring, both readers detected with CT 3 more patients with CMC1 OA, and 13 and 5 more patients with STT OA. Computed tomography had a higher inter-reader reliability and detection rate for both CMC1 and STT OA, compared with radiography. As surgical treatment selection of thumb base OA depends on the presence of pathology in the CMC1 and STT joints, CT may improve treatment selection and surgical planning.