The association of prevalent medial meniscal pathology with cartilage loss in the medial tibiofemoral compartment over a 2-year period

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2010 Mar;18(3):336-43. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2009.11.003. Epub 2009 Nov 11.


Objective: To investigate the association of different types of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-detected medial meniscal pathology with subregional cartilage loss in the medial tibiofemoral compartment.

Methods: A total of 152 women aged >or=40 years, with and without knee osteoarthritis (OA) were included in a longitudinal 24-month observational study. Spoiled gradient recalled acquisitions at steady state (SPGR) and T2-weighted fat-suppressed MRI sequences were acquired. Medial meniscal status of the anterior horn (AH), body, and posterior horn (PH) was graded at baseline: 0 (normal), 1 (intrasubstance meniscal signal changes), 2 (single tears), and 3 (complex tears/maceration). Cartilage segmentation was performed at baseline and 24-month follow-up in various tibiofemoral subregions using computation software. Multiple linear regression models were applied for the analysis with cartilage loss as the outcome. In a first model, the results were adjusted for age and body mass index (BMI). In a second model, the results were adjusted for age, BMI and medial meniscal extrusion.

Results: After adjusting for age, BMI, and medial meniscal extrusion, cartilage loss in the total medial tibia (MT) (0.04 mm, P=0.04) and the external medial tibia (eMT) (0.068 mm, P=0.04) increased significantly for compartments with grade 3 lesions. Cartilage loss in the total central medial femoral condyle (cMF) (0.071 mm, P=0.03) also increased significantly for compartments with grade 2 lesions. Cartilage loss at the eMT was significantly related to tears of the PH (0.074 mm; P=0.03). Cartilage loss was not significantly increased for compartments with grade 1 lesions.

Conclusion: The protective function of the meniscus appears to be preserved in the presence of intrasubstance meniscal signal changes. Prevalent single tears and meniscal maceration were found to be associated with increased cartilage loss in the same compartment, especially at the PH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Femur / pathology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Tibia / pathology