Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze sex differences in knee cartilage volume.
Methods: Articulate cartilage volumes were determined by processing images acquired in the sagittal plane using T1-weighted fat saturation magnetic resonance on an independent work station. The knees of 28 subjects (17 male, 11 female) who underwent MRI for clinical indications (pain <3 months) but who had a normal X-ray and structurally normal MRI were examined.
Results: Males had significantly larger cartilage volumes than females, with difference in cartilage volume remaining statistically significant after adjusting for age, height, weight and bone volume. The differences for males relative to females were: femoral cartilage volume [4.1 ml 95% CI (2.0, 6.1)]; and patella cartilage volume [1.4 ml (0.2, 2.7)]. Although not statistically significant, the tibial cartilage volume also showed these sex differences. Exploratory analysis indicated an increasing gender difference with increasing age for patellar cartilage volume.
Conclusion: Men have significantly larger knee cartilage volume than women, independent of body and bone size. The mechanisms for this will need to be determined.
Copyright 1999 OsteoArthritis Research Society International.