Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score (WORMS) of the knee in osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2004 Mar;12(3):177-90. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2003.11.003.


Objectives: To describe a semi-quantitative scoring method for multi-feature, whole-organ evaluation of the knee in osteoarthritis (OA) based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings. To determine the inter-observer agreement of this scoring method. To examine associations among the features included in the scoring method.

Methods: Nineteen knees of 19 patients with knee OA were imaged with MRI using conventional pulse sequences and a clinical 1.5 T MRI system. Images were independently analyzed by two musculoskeletal radiologists using a whole-organ MRI scoring method (WORMS) that incorporated 14 features: articular cartilage integrity, subarticular bone marrow abnormality, subarticular cysts, subarticular bone attrition, marginal osteophytes, medial and lateral meniscal integrity, anterior and posterior cruciate ligament integrity, medial and lateral collateral ligament integrity, synovitis/effusion, intraarticular loose bodies, and periarticular cysts/bursitis. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were determined for each feature as a measure of inter-observer agreement. Associations among the scores for different features were expressed as Spearman Rho.

Results: All knees showed structural abnormalities with MRI. Cartilage loss and osteophytes were the most prevalent features (98% and 92%, respectively). One of the least common features was ligament abnormality (8%). Inter-observer agreement for WORMS scores was high (most ICC values were >0.80). The individual features showed strong inter-associations.

Conclusion: The WORMS method described in this report provides multi-feature, whole-organ assessment of the knee in OA using conventional MR images, and shows high inter-observer agreement among trained readers. This method may be useful in epidemiological studies and clinical trials of OA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnosis*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology
  • Severity of Illness Index*