Purpose: To examine articular cartilage and subchondral bone changes in tibiofemoral and patellofemoral joints following partial medial meniscectomy.
Methods: For this cross-sectional study, 158 patients aged 30-55 years, without evidence of knee osteoarthritis at arthroscopic partial medial meniscectomy (APMM), and 38 controls were recruited. MRI was performed once on the operated knee for each subcohort of 3 months, 2 or 4 years post-surgery, and the randomly assigned knee of the controls. Cartilage volume, cartilage defects, and bone size were assessed using validated methods.
Results: Compared with controls, APMM patients had more prevalent cartilage defects in medial tibiofemoral (OR = 3.17, 95%CI 1.24-8.11) and patellofemoral (OR = 13.76, 95%CI 1.52-124.80) compartments, and increased medial tibial plateau bone area (B = 143.8, 95%CI 57.4-230.2). Time from APMM was positively associated with cartilage defect prevalence in medial tibiofemoral (OR = 1.02, 95%CI 1.00-1.03) and patellofemoral (OR = 1.04, 95%CI 1.01-1.07) compartments, and medial tibial plateau area (B = 2.5, 95%CI 0.8-4.3), but negatively associated with lateral tibial cartilage volume (B = -4.9, 95%CI -8.4 to -1.5). The association of APMM and time from APMM with patellar cartilage defects was independent of tibial cartilage volume.
Conclusions: Partial medial meniscectomy is associated with adverse effects on articular cartilage and subchondral bone, which are associated with subsequent osteoarthritis, in both tibiofemoral and patellofemoral compartments.
Level of evidence: III.