MRI of pediatric patients: Part 2, normal variants and abnormalities of the knee

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 May;198(5):W456-65. doi: 10.2214/AJR.10.7317.


Objective: The purpose of this article is to discuss MRI of the pediatric knee and familiarize the reader with conditions encountered in the pediatric population. Clinical scenarios are included to convey important concepts and to orient the learner to normal variants and abnormalities of the pediatric knee. The conditions discussed include, but are not limited to, distal femoral metaphysial irregularity, isolated popliteus tendon avulsion, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and discoid meniscus.

Conclusion: The knee is the joint that is most commonly imaged by MRI in children. Injury patterns and signs of other pathologic processes seen in skeletally immature patients are different from those seen in adults. Interpreting pediatric knee MRI studies may be a challenge for those unfamiliar with the evolving patterns of normal development and of the signs of conditions that are more prevalent in children. Through case scenarios, this article describes and provides images that depict conditions commonly encountered in the pediatric knee. Most of the described normal findings and abnormalities are more prevalent in the pediatric population than in adults, and a few of the conditions are, in fact, unique to pediatric patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cartilage Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cartilage Diseases / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / anatomy & histology
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Joint Diseases / pathology
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Knee Injuries / pathology
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Reference Values