Prevalence of abnormal findings in 230 knees of asymptomatic adults using 3.0 T MRI

Skeletal Radiol. 2020 Jul;49(7):1099-1107. doi: 10.1007/s00256-020-03394-z. Epub 2020 Feb 14.


Objective: To identify abnormalities in asymptomatic sedentary individuals using 3.0 Tesla high-resolution MRI.

Materials and methods: The cohort comprised of 230 knees of 115 uninjured sedentary adults (51 males, 64 females; median age: 44 years). All participants had bilateral knee 3.0 T MRIs. Two senior musculoskeletal radiologists graded all intraarticular knee structures using validated scoring systems. Participants completed Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score questionnaires at the time of the MRI scan.

Results: MRI showed abnormalities in the majority (97%) of knees. Thirty percent knees had meniscal tears: horizontal (23%), complex (3%), vertical (2%), radial (2%) and bucket handle (1%). Cartilage and bone marrow abnormalities were prevalent at the patellofemoral joint (57% knees and 48% knees, respectively). Moderate and severe cartilage lesions were common, in 19% and 31% knees, respectively, while moderate and severe bone marrow oedema in 19% and 31% knees, respectively. Moderate-intensity lesion in tendons was found in 21% knees and high-grade tendonitis in 6% knees-the patellar (11% and 2%, respectively) and quadriceps (7% and 2%, respectively) tendons being most affected. Three percent partial ligamentous ruptures were found, especially of the anterior cruciate ligament (2%).

Conclusion: Nearly all knees of asymptomatic adults showed abnormalities in at least one knee structure on MRI. Meniscal tears, cartilage and bone marrow lesions of the patellofemoral joint were the most common pathological findings. Bucket handle and complex meniscal tears were reported for the first time in asymptomatic knees.

Keywords: Elderly; Knee injuries; Pain-free; Radiology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Asymptomatic Diseases*
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Cartilage Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Prevalence
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tendinopathy / diagnostic imaging