Sonographic imaging of normal and osteoarthritic cartilage

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Jun;28(6):398-403. doi: 10.1016/s0049-0172(99)80005-5.


Objectives: This study was undertaken to describe representative sonographic features of normal and osteoarthritic cartilage.

Methods: Sonographic evaluation was performed with real-time ultrasound equipment, using 7.5-, 10-, 13-, 15-, and 20-MHz transducers. Normal and osteoarthritic cartilage has been studied in healthy subjects and in patients with osteoarthritis.

Results: Ultrasonography allows a safe, quick, and careful evaluation of both normal and osteoarthritic cartilage. A spectrum of images ranging from loss of cartilage transparency to marked narrowing of the cartilage layer can be depicted clearly in patients with osteoarthritis. Loss of clarity of the cartilaginous band and loss of the normal sharpness of the synovial space-cartilage interface are the earlier features of cartilage damage.

Conclusions: Although the value of ultrasonography in the evaluation of articular cartilage remains to be determined, this imaging method can be regarded as a useful bedside procedure for initial diagnostic screening of osteoarthritic femoral condylar cartilage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Ultrasonography