Imaging of the disease process

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2002 Sep;14(5):590-6. doi: 10.1097/00002281-200209000-00020.


Until recently, imaging evaluation of osteoarthritis (OA) has relied primarily on conventional radiography. Using radiography in clinical practice or clinical research, however, has been fraught with difficulty. Techniques for reproducibly acquiring serial radiographs of joints have improved considerably over the past several years. However, the greatest promise for advancing knowledge about OA and its treatment lies in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its unique ability to examine the joint as a whole organ. In contrast to conventional radiography, MRI can directly visualize the articular cartilage, synovium, menisci, and other intra-articular structures important to the functional integrity of joints. There have been considerable advances in MRI of articular cartilage in particular over the past several years. However, much of this has come from small cross-sectional studies, and published longitudinal studies remain quite scant. The following discussion reviews the current status of imaging in OA and points to where changes might be anticipated in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthrography* / trends
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed