Objective: To examine the predictive value of the delayed gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of cartilage (dGEMRIC) index with regard to future radiographic osteoarthritis (OA).
Methods: In 1998, 17 knees in 11 men and 4 women with knee pain, normal results of weight-bearing radiography, and arthroscopic cartilage changes ranging from superficial fibrillation to fissuring and softening were examined using dGEMRIC. Six years later, 16 of the 17 knees were reassessed for radiographic OA changes.
Results: At followup, 9 of the 16 knees showed radiographic OA changes. Two of them had undergone a knee joint replacement due to OA. In the knees with radiographic OA, the dGEMRIC index at baseline was lower than that in the knees without radiographic OA (P = 0.03).
Conclusion: The results of the present study support the dGEMRIC index as a clinically relevant measure of cartilage integrity and suggest that a low index may be predictive of the development of knee OA.