Objective: Since complete meniscectomy leads to knee OA, we investigated the potential links among meniscal subluxation, joint space narrowing and symptomatic OA.
Materials and methods: 233 cases with symptomatic knee OA and 58 asymptomatic controls underwent radiography and MR imaging of the knee. Joint space narrowing was measured on weight-bearing PA fluoroscopy-positioned radiographs. The amount of medial or lateral meniscal subluxation was measured on coronal MR images. The prevalence and severity of meniscal subluxation was compared in cases and controls. We evaluated the correlation of the degree of meniscal subluxation with joint space narrowing, Kellgren and Lawrence grade, and two major risk factors for the development of OA, age and weight.
Results: Cases had more medial and lateral subluxation than controls. Mean medial meniscal subluxation was 5.1 mm in cases and 2.8 mm in controls (P=0.001). Modest degrees of meniscal subluxation were common in both cases and controls: 81% of cases and 64% of controls had >/=3 mm of subluxation; age and gender adjusted (P=0.006). Severe degrees of subluxation were almost unique to OA cases (e.g. prevalence of >/=7 mm, 35% cases vs. 7% controls, P< 0.001). Among controls, severe degrees of subluxation were present only in those with radiographic joint space narrowing (defined as >/=grade 1 narrowing on a 0-3 scale). In cases, there was a strong correlation between the degree of medial meniscal subluxation and the severity of medial joint space narrowing (r=0.56, P=0.0001). Similar results were present in the lateral compartment. Meniscal subluxation did not correlate with age or weight.
Conclusion: Meniscal subluxation is highly associated with symptomatic knee OA. In subjects with osteoarthritis, increasing meniscal subluxation on MR correlates with the severity of joint space narrowing.
Copyright 1999 OsteoArthritis Research Society International.