MRI and non-cartilaginous structures in knee osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006;14 Suppl A:A87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2006.02.028. Epub 2006 May 19.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a sensitive tool for examining all the structures involved in the osteoarthritis (OA) process. While much of the MRI literature previously focussed on cartilage, there is increasing research on whole-organ evaluation and including features such as synovitis, bone marrow edema, and meniscal and ligamentous pathology. The aim of this session at the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials (OMERACT)-Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) Workshop for Consensus in Osteoarthritis Imaging was to describe the current MRI methods for identifying and quantifying non-cartilaginous structures and review their associations with both OA symptoms and structural progression. Although there is much experience in measuring synovitis (derived from the rheumatoid arthritis literature), only one study has reported an association of MRI-detected synovitis and effusions with OA pain. Bone marrow edema lesions, which may represent areas of trabecular remodelling, have been associated with pain and compartment-specific structural deterioration. MRI studies have confirmed the frequency and importance of meniscal damage in progressive cartilage loss, but not related such damage to symptoms. Osteophytes have been associated with cartilage loss and malalignment to the side of the osteophyte. Ligament damage, including anterior cruciate ligament tears, has been found more commonly than expected in painful OA knees. Improvements in quantitative and semi-quantitative assessments of non-cartilage features will greatly assist understanding of the OA process and its response to therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / pathology
  • Edema / pathology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology
  • Synovitis / pathology