Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy and tolerability of different antiresorptive therapeutic regimens for treating symptomatic bone marrow lesions (BML) of the knee.
Methods: Patient records of 34 patients with radiologically diagnosed, painful BML of the knee treated with either a bisphosphonate (zoledronic, ibandronic, or alendronic acid) or with a human monoclonal antibody (denosumab) were retrospectively evaluated. Response to treatment was assessed, as change in patient-reported pain, by evaluation of BML expansion on MRI using the Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score (WORMS), and by laboratory analysis of bone turnover markers: C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide (CTx) and procollagen type 1 amino-terminal propeptide (P1NP). Tolerability was evaluated by documentation of adverse reactions.
Results: Zoledronic acid was more or at least equally effective as the other treatment regimens with response to treatment in 11 of 12 patients (92%). The highest rate of adverse events was noted in 4 of 12 patients (33%) treated with zoledronic acid. CTx and WORMS differentiated well between responders and non-responders, whereas P1NP failed to do so. Changes in pain correlated moderately with change in WORMS (r = - 0.32), weakly with change in CTx (r = - 0.07), and not at all with change in P1NP.
Conclusion: Zoledronic acid appeared to be more effective than other antiresorptive medications-at the cost of more frequent adverse events. While radiological and laboratory evaluation methods may allow for objective treatment monitoring, they appear to capture different dimensions than patient-reported pain.
Level of evidence: III.
Keywords: Antiresorptive medication; Biphosphonate; Bisphosphonates; Bone bruise; Bone marrow lesion; Bone marrow oedema; Bone turnover marker; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Transient osteoporosis.