Posterior distal femoral and proximal tibial metaphyseal stripes at MR imaging in children and young adults

Radiology. 2002 Sep;224(3):669-74. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2243011259.


Purpose: To determine the frequency and distribution of the hyperintense stripe seen along the posterior surface of distal femoral and proximal tibial metaphyses at magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.

Materials and methods: One hundred forty-two MR imaging studies obtained in 139 children and young adults were reviewed. The authors recorded the presence and distribution of posterior distal femoral and proximal tibial metaphyseal stripes. Presence of stripe was correlated with patient age and sex and with patency of the adjacent physis. Fifty-nine studies of adults were reviewed similarly. Two-way analysis of variance was performed to compare mean patient age for sex among four different categories that were based on stripe presence and physeal patency. Orthogonal contrasts were used to determine whether a linear trend across the categories existed. In one cadaveric femur, imaging and histologic analysis were performed.

Results: A metaphyseal stripe was seen in all patients with a completely or partially open physis (110 femora, 102 tibiae) and in 56 femora and 60 tibiae in the patients with fused physes. Thirty-five femora and 35 tibiae showed no stripe; all patients were skeletally mature. Correlations between metaphyseal stripe visualization and physeal patency were significant (P <.001). Differences in mean patient age among the four categories were significant for both (femoral and tibial) locations (P <.001), and a linear trend with age (P <.001) was demonstrated. This linear trend was also observed in both sexes (P <.001). Histologic analysis revealed highly vascular loose fibrous tissue.

Conclusion: A posterior metaphyseal stripe is seen at MR imaging of the skeletally immature knee and likely reflects normal bone growth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Femur / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology*