Knee cartilage T2 characteristics and evolution in relation to morphologic abnormalities detected at 3-T MR imaging: a longitudinal study of the normal control cohort from the Osteoarthritis Initiative

Radiology. 2011 Nov;261(2):507-15. doi: 10.1148/radiol.11102234. Epub 2011 Sep 7.


Purpose: To determine the frequency of degenerative knee morphologic abnormalities in asymptomatic individuals by using 3-T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and to investigate the characteristics and evolution of cartilage T2 values in relation to morphologic abnormalities with a longitudinal study.

Materials and methods: The study was approved by the institutional review board and was compliant with HIPAA. Ninety-five asymptomatic subjects aged 45-78 years who were free of risk factors for osteoarthritis (OA) were selected from the Osteoarthritis Initiative normal control cohort and examined with radiography and 3-T MR imaging. Data obtained at both baseline and 2-year follow-up were analyzed. OA-related knee abnormalities were analyzed by using the whole-organ MR imaging score (WORMS). Cartilage T2 maps were generated by using sagittal two-dimensional multiecho spin-echo images of the right knee. Statistical significance was determined with the Student t test, the paired t test, a mixed random effects model, one-way analysis of variance, and a multiple linear regression model.

Results: Knee abnormalities were identified with a high frequency (90% at baseline and 92% at 2-year follow-up). The prevalence of hyaline cartilage lesions was particularly high (86% at baseline and 84% at follow-up). A significant longitudinal increase in T2 was detected in the tibiofemoral cartilage but not the patellofemoral cartilage (P = .0072). The longitudinal change in T2 was significantly associated with worsening of the cartilage WORMS (P = .038).

Conclusion: Asymptomatic subjects have a high frequency of OA-related morphologic abnormalities. A significant increase in tibiofemoral cartilage T2 was detected over the 2-year period. A greater increase in T2 was associated with increased progression of cartilage morphologic abnormalities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires