Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine if a positive association exists between arterial vessel wall thickness and generalized osteoarthritis (OA). Our hypothesis is that generalized OA is another facet of the metabolic syndrome.
Materials and methods: The medical ethical review board of our institution approved the study. Written informed consent was obtained from each patient prior to the study. Magnetic resonance (MR) images of the knee were obtained in 42 patients who had been diagnosed with generalized OA at multiple joint sites. Another 27 MR images of the knee were obtained from a matched normal (non-OA) reference population. Vessel wall thickness of the popliteal artery was quantitatively measured by dedicated software. Linear regression models were used to investigate the association between vessel wall thickness and generalized OA. Adjustments were made for age, sex, and body mass index (BMI). Confidence intervals (CI) were computed at the 95% level and a significance level of alpha = 0.05 was used.
Results: Patients in the generalized OA population had a significant higher average vessel wall thickness than persons from the normal reference population (p < or = alpha), even when correction was made for sex, age, and BMI. The average vessel wall thickness of the popliteal artery was 1.09 mm in patients with generalized OA, and 0.96 mm in the matched normal reference population.
Conclusion: The association found between increased popliteal artery vessel wall thickness and generalized osteoarthritis suggests that generalized OA might be another facet of the metabolic syndrome.