MRI characteristics and histology of bone marrow lesions in dogs with experimentally induced osteoarthritis

Vet Radiol Ultrasound. Mar-Apr 2007;48(2):105-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8261.2007.00213.x.


Signal changes within the bone marrow adjacent to osteoarthritic joints are commonly seen on magnetic resonance (MR) images in humans and in dogs. The histological nature of these lesions is poorly known. In this study, we describe the MR imaging of bone marrow lesions adjacent to the stifle joints of dogs with experimental osteoarthritis over 13 months. Histology of the proximal tibia at the end of the study was compared with the last MR imaging findings. In five adult dogs, the left cranial cruciate ligament was transected. Post-operatively, MR imaging was performed at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 13 months. Dogs were euthanised after 13 months and histological specimen of the proximal tibia were evaluated. Bone marrow edema like MR imaging signal changes were seen in every MR examination of all dogs in one or more locations of the proximal tibia and the distal femur. Lesions varied in size and location throughout the whole study with the exception of constantly seen lesions in the epiphyseal and metaphyseal region at the level of the tibial eminence. On histology, hematopoiesis and myxomatous transformation of the bone marrow and/or intertrabecular fibrosis without signs of bone marrow edema were consistent findings in the areas corresponding to the MR imaging signal changes. We conclude that within the bone marrow, zones of increased signal intensity on fat suppressed MR images do not necessarily represent edema but can be due to cellular infiltration. Contrary to humans, hematopoiesis is seen in bone marrow edema-like lesions in this canine model of osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / pathology
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / veterinary*
  • Dogs
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / veterinary*