Association of prevalent and incident knee cartilage defects with loss of tibial and patellar cartilage: a longitudinal study

Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Dec;52(12):3918-27. doi: 10.1002/art.21474.


Objective: To describe the association between prevalent and incident knee cartilage defects and loss of knee cartilage in male and female adults.

Methods: A convenience sample of 325 subjects (mean age 45 years; age range 26-61 years) was evaluated at baseline and approximately 2 years later. Knee cartilage volume, cartilage defect scores (0-4 scale), and joint surface area were determined using T1-weighted fat-suppression magnetic resonance imaging techniques. Height, weight, and radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis were measured by standard protocols.

Results: Multivariable analysis revealed that baseline cartilage defect scores at the medial tibia, lateral tibia, and patella had a dose-response association with the annual rate of change in knee cartilage volume at the corresponding site (beta = -1.3% to -1.2% per grade; P < 0.05 for all comparisons). In addition, an increase in knee cartilage defect score (change of > or =1) was associated with higher rates of knee cartilage volume loss at all sites (beta = -1.9% to -1.7% per year; P < 0.01 for all comparisons). Furthermore, a decrease in the knee cartilage defect score (change of less than or equal to -1) was associated with an increase in knee cartilage volume at all sites (beta = 1.0% to 2.7% per year; P < 0.05 for all comparisons).

Conclusion: Prevalent knee cartilage defects are predictive of compartment-specific cartilage loss over 2 years. Both increases and decreases in knee cartilage defects are associated with changes in knee cartilage volume, which implies a potential for reversal of knee cartilage loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Patella
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Tibia