Comparison of radiographic joint space width with magnetic resonance imaging cartilage morphometry: analysis of longitudinal data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2010 Jul;62(7):932-7. doi: 10.1002/acr.20148.


Objective: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and radiography are established imaging modalities for the assessment of knee osteoarthritis (OA). The objective of our study was to compare the responsiveness of radiographic joint space width (JSW) with MRI-derived measures of cartilage morphometry for OA progression in participants from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI).

Methods: This study examined the baseline and 12-month visits of a subset of 150 subjects from the OAI. Measurement of radiographic JSW was facilitated by the use of automated software that delineated the femoral and tibial margins of the joint. Measures of medial compartment minimum JSW and JSW at fixed locations were compared with cartilage morphometry measures derived from MRI. The results were stratified by Kellgren/Lawrence (K/L) scale grade and by tibiofemoral anatomic axis angle. In order to examine the relative responsiveness of various techniques, we calculated the standardized response mean (SRM) between the 2 visits.

Results: The SRM for radiographic JSW measured at the optimal location was -0.32 compared with -0.39 for the most responsive MRI measure. For the subgroup with a K/L scale grade of 2 or 3, the most responsive SRM values were -0.34 for radiographic JSW and -0.42 for MRI.

Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that new measures using a software analysis of digital knee radiographic images are comparable with MRI in detecting OA progression, and potentially superior when considering the cost-effectiveness of the 2 imaging modalities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Female
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / diagnostic imaging*
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Radiography
  • Tibia / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibia / pathology