Objective: To develop a scoring system for quantifying osteoarthritic changes of the knee as identified by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and to determine its inter- and intra-observer reproducibility, in order to monitor medical therapy in research studies.
Design and patients: Two independent observers evaluated 25 consecutive MR examinations of the knee in patients with previously defined clinical symptoms and radiological signs of osteoarthritis. We acquired on a 1.5 T system: coronal and sagittal proton density- and T2-weighted dual spin echo (SE) images, sagittal three-dimensional T1-weighted gradient echo (GE) images with fat suppression, and axial dual turbo SE images with fat suppression. Images were scored for the presence of cartilaginous lesions, osteophytes, subchondral cysts, bone marrow edema, and for meniscal abnormalities. Presence and size of effusion, synovitis and Baker's cyst were recorded. All parameters were ranked on a previously defined, semiquantitative scale, reflecting increasing severity of findings. Kappa, weighted kappa and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) were used to determine inter- and intra-observer variability.
Results: Inter-observer reproducibility was good (ICC value 0.77). Inter- and intra-observer reproducibility for individual parameters was good to very good (inter-observer ICC value 0.63-0.91; intra-observer ICC value 0.76-0.96).
Conclusion: The presented comprehensive MR scoring system for osteoarthritic changes of the knee has a good to very good inter-observer and intra-observer reproducibility. Thus the score form with its definitions can be used for standardized assessment of osteoarthritic changes to monitor medical therapy in research studies.