Objective: We determined whether using two recently described indirect MR imaging signs would improve the sensitivity of diagnosis of lateral meniscal tears.
Materials and methods: We identified 121 consecutive patients who had undergone knee MR imaging and knee arthroscopy. Their MR imaging examinations were evaluated for the conventional criteria of a meniscal tear (meniscal distortion or intrameniscal signal contacting the surface) and the two new signs (presence of an abnormal popliteomeniscal fascicle and posterolateral pericapsular edema). These observations were correlated with the arthroscopic findings, which were used as the gold standard.
Results: Thirty-two (89%) of the 36 torn lateral menisci had two or more images with distortion or signal contacting the surface. Three torn menisci and eight intact menisci had one image with distortion or surface signal. Only one of 75 menisci without distortion or surface signal was torn. An abnormal superior fascicle was highly associated (p < 0.001) with lateral meniscal tears but was not specific for a tear because three of the 14 menisci with abnormal fascicles were not torn. Posterolateral pericapsular edema was not associated with a lateral meniscal tear (p = 0.06). Using an abnormal fascicle as an additional criterion improved the sensitivity from 89% to 94%, but the difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusion: We confirmed that an abnormal fascicle is highly associated with a lateral meniscal tear but found that posterolateral pericapsular edema was not associated with lateral meniscal tears. Identifying an abnormal fascicle did not significantly improve the sensitivity of diagnosis of a lateral meniscal tear.