Characterization of the "red zone" of knee meniscus: MR imaging and histologic correlation

Radiology. 2000 Oct;217(1):193-200. doi: 10.1148/radiology.217.1.r00se36193.


Purpose: To determine the extent and vascularity of knee menisci with conventional and gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in cadaveric specimens, with histologic findings as the reference standard, and to investigate signal intensity changes in menisci and perimeniscal soft tissues in symptomatic patients.

Materials and methods: Radial dimensions and enhancement patterns of menisci were recorded and compared in (a) 12 cadaveric menisci examined with conventional and gadolinium-enhanced intermediate-weighted and fat-suppressed T1-weighted spin-echo MR imaging, high-spatial-resolution T1-weighted and fast low-angle shot MR imaging, and gross anatomic and histologic specimens and (b) 18 patients examined with conventional and gadolinium-enhanced fat-suppressed T1-weighted spin-echo MR imaging.

Results: No differences in radial measurements of the meniscus were found for different MR techniques (P =.551). Despite the presence of vessels in the peripheral 10%-15% of the menisci, no enhancement of menisci was detected in specimens or patients. Perimeniscal soft-tissue enhancement adjacent to the posterior horn was greater than that adjacent to the anterior horn (P <.05), and enhancement of the lateral meniscal body was greater than that of the medial meniscal body (P <.05).

Conclusion: The wedge-shaped low-signal-intensity structure seen on MR images represents the entire meniscus. Intravenous injection of contrast material does not appear to be useful for differentiation of the vascularized from the nonvascularized zone of the meniscus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cadaver
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / anatomy & histology*
  • Menisci, Tibial / blood supply
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA