Association of cartilage defects, and other MRI findings with pain and function in individuals with mild-moderate radiographic hip osteoarthritis and controls

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Nov;21(11):1685-92. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2013.08.009. Epub 2013 Aug 12.


Objective: To evaluate the relationship of hip radiographic osteoarthritis (ROA) and MRI findings of cartilage lesions, labral tears, bone marrow edema-like lesions (BMELs) and subchondral cysts with self-reported and physical function.

Design: Eighty five subjects were classified as controls (n = 55, Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) 0, 1) or having mild-moderate ROA (n = 30, KL 2, 3). T2 weighted MRI images at 3-T were graded for presence of cartilage lesions, labral tears, BMELs and subchondral cysts. Posterior wall sign, cross-over sign, center-edge angle and alpha angle were also recorded. Function was assessed using Hip dysfunction and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (HOOS), Timed-Up and Go (TUG) test and Y-Balance Test (YBT). Analysis compared function between subjects with and without ROA and those with and without femoral or acetabular cartilage lesions, adjusted for age. Non-parametric correlations were used to assess the relationship between radiographic scores, MRI scores and function.

Results: Subjects with acetabular cartilage lesions had worse HOOS (Difference = 5-10%, P = 0.036-0.004), but not TUG or YBT, scores. Acetabular cartilage lesions, BMELs and subchondral cysts were associated with worse HOOS scores (ρ = 0.23-0.37, P = 0.041-0.001). Differences in function between subjects with and without ROA or femoral cartilage lesions were not significant. Other radiologic findings were not associated with function.

Conclusions: Acetabular cartilage defects, but not femoral cartilage defects or ROA, were associated with greater self-reported pain and disability. BMELs and subchondral cysts were related to greater hip related self-reported pain and disability. None of the radiographic or MRI features was related to physical function.

Keywords: BMEL; Balance; Kellgren–Lawrence; Labral tears; Subchondral cyst; Y-Balance Test.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Cysts / diagnosis
  • Bone Cysts / etiology
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / diagnosis
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / etiology
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / complications*
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / physiopathology
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Radiography
  • Self Report
  • Severity of Illness Index