MRI demonstration of hypertrophic articular cartilage repair in osteoarthritis

Skeletal Radiol. 1990;19(5):335-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00193086.


Transection of the anterior cruciate ligament in the dog produces changes in the unstable joint typical of osteoarthritis, although full-thickness cartilage ulceration is rare. Information concerning the late fate of the cartilage after transection is meager. In the present study magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to evaluate cartilage abnormalities 3 years after transection. Plain radiographs of the osteoarthritic and contralateral knees were obtained serially. MRI was performed 3 years after anterior cruciate ligament transection, at which time all three animals exhibited knee instability. Radiographs of the osteoarthritic knees showed osteophytes and subchondral sclerosis with progression between 2 and 3 years. On MRI, articular cartilage margins in the knee were indistinct, and the cartilage was thicker than that in the contralateral knee (maximum difference = 2.7 mm). This increase in thickness is consistent with biochemical data from dogs killed up to 64 weeks after creation of knee instability, which showed marked increased in cartilage bulk and in proteoglycan synthesis and concentration. The findings emphasize that increased matrix synthesis after anterior cruciate ligament transection leads to functional cartilage repair sustained even in the presence of persistent alteration of joint mechanics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology
  • Dogs
  • Hindlimb
  • Hypertrophy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing