Bone Marrow Edema, Clinical Significance, and Treatment Options: A Review

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2020 Oct 15;28(20):e888-e899. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-20-00142.


Bone marrow edema (BME) is a descriptive term used to describe high-signal intensity changes detected on magnetic resonance fluid-sensitive sequences that could be attributed to a number of underlying pathologies. Regardless of the cause, physiologic remodeling of the subchondral bone can be limited because of ongoing joint forces, increased focalization of stress, and reduced healing capacity of the subchondral bone. BME is a known prognostic factor associated with pain, dysfunction, and progressive cartilage damage. This review summarizes the current known causes of BMEs, theories related to histopathological changes, and current treatment options including novel biologic surgical options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / etiology*
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / pathology
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / therapy*
  • Bone Substitutes / administration & dosage
  • Calcium Phosphates / administration & dosage
  • Calcium Phosphates / economics*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Conservative Treatment
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Edema / diagnostic imaging
  • Edema / etiology*
  • Edema / pathology
  • Edema / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedic Procedures
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prognosis


  • Bone Substitutes
  • Calcium Phosphates
  • calcium phosphate