Degree of synovitis on MRI by comprehensive whole knee semi-quantitative scoring method correlates with histologic and macroscopic features of synovial tissue inflammation in knee osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2014 Oct;22(10):1606-13. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2013.12.013. Epub 2013 Dec 21.


Objective: To evaluate the association between synovitis on contrast enhanced (CE) MRI with microscopic and macroscopic features of synovial tissue inflammation.

Method: Forty-one patients (mean age 60 years, 61% women) with symptomatic radiographic knee OA were studied: twenty underwent arthroscopy (macroscopic features were scored (0-4), synovial biopsies obtained), twenty-one underwent arthroplasty (synovial tissues were collected). After haematoxylin and eosin staining, the lining cell layer, synovial stroma and inflammatory infiltrate of synovial tissues were scored (0-3). T1-weighted CE-MRI's (3 T) were used to semi-quantitatively score synovitis at 11 sites (0-22) according to Guermazi et al. Spearman's rank correlations were calculated.

Results: The mean (SD) MRI synovitis score was 8.0 (3.7) and the total histology grade was 2.5 (1.6). Median (range) scores of macroscopic features were 2 (1-3) for neovascularization, 1 (0-3) for hyperplasia, 2 (0-4) for villi and 2 (0-3) for fibrin deposits. The MRI synovitis score was significantly correlated with total histology grade [r = 0.6], as well as with lining cell layer [r = 0.4], stroma [r = 0.3] and inflammatory infiltrate [r = 0.5] grades. Moreover, MRI synovitis score was also significantly correlated with macroscopic neovascularization [r = 0.6], hyperplasia [r = 0.6] and villi [r = 0.6], but not with fibrin [r = 0.3].

Conclusion: Synovitis severity on CE-MRI assessed by a new whole knee scoring system by Guermazi et al. is a valid, non-invasive method to determine synovitis as it is significantly correlated with both macroscopic and microscopic features of synovitis in knee OA patients.

Keywords: MRI; Macroscopy; Osteoarthritis; Synovial tissue; Synovitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Radiography
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology*
  • Synovitis / pathology*