The clinical significance of anterior horn meniscal tears diagnosed on magnetic resonance images

Am J Sports Med. Mar-Apr 2002;30(2):189-92. doi: 10.1177/03635465020300020701.


We assessed the accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging in detecting clinically significant lesions of the anterior horn of the meniscus by reviewing 947 consecutive knee magnetic resonance imaging reports. Of these, 76 (8%) indicated a tear of the anterior horn of the medial or lateral meniscus. Thirty-one of these 76 patients underwent a subsequent arthroscopic examination, and their operative reports were reviewed. The 45 patients who were not examined arthroscopically were contacted and interviewed for clinical follow-up. Among the 31 patients who underwent arthroscopic examination, 8 anterior horn tears were noted in the predicted area (26% true-positive results), 23 patients had intact anterior horns (74% false-positive results), and 18 had normal intact menisci in all zones. Of the 45 patients who did not undergo arthroscopic surgery, 6 had isolated anterior horn tears reported on magnetic resonance imaging, and 5 of the 6 were asymptomatic at follow-up. The other 39 patients had multiple pathologic conditions noted on the magnetic resonance imaging report and continued to report knee pain at the follow-up interview. Increased signal intensity at the anterior horn of the meniscus seen on magnetic resonance imaging commonly does not represent a clinically significant lesion. We recommend correlation with the physical examination when interpreting this "positive" finding on knee magnetic resonance imaging examinations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroscopy
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rupture
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries*