Does altered biomechanics cause marrow edema?

Radiology. 1996 Mar;198(3):851-3. doi: 10.1148/radiology.198.3.8628882.


Purpose: To determine if altered weight bearing causes the appearance of marrow edema on magnetic resonance (MR) images.

Materials and methods: Twelve volunteers underwent MR imaging with a short inversion time inversion-recovery (STIR) sequence at 1.5 T. The hips, knees, ankles, and feet were evaluated before and 2 weeks after altered weight bearing achieved with overpronation of one foot. Three volunteers underwent imaging a third time, 2 weeks after overpronation was stopped. Two observers assessed the images for evidence of marrow edema.

Results: Changes were seen on images in 11 volunteers; the overpronated side only was affected in 10. Most changes occurred in the foot followed by the tibia and the femur. Most changes were a diffuse increase in marrow edema. In two volunteers, the changes resembled those of stress fractures.

Conclusion: Altered weight bearing should be added to the list of causes of increased medullary signal intensity (ie, marrow edema) on MR images.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Bone Marrow / physiology
  • Edema / diagnosis
  • Edema / etiology*
  • Edema / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Femur / pathology
  • Foot / pathology
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Pronation
  • Tibia / pathology
  • Weight-Bearing