Quantitative MR imaging evaluation of chondropathy in osteoarthritic knees

Radiology. 1998 Jul;208(1):49-55. doi: 10.1148/radiology.208.1.9646792.


Purpose: To determine the validity and the reliability of T1-weighted three-dimensional gradient-echo magnetic resonance (MR) imaging for quantification of articular cartilage abnormalities of osteoarthritic knees.

Materials and methods: Forty-three patients (mean age, 63 years) with knee osteoarthritis (American College of Rheumatology criteria) of the medial tibiofemoral compartment underwent a prospective, cross-sectional study. Knees were examined with a T1-weighted three-dimensional gradient-echo sequence (1.4-mm contiguous sections), with use of a 0.2-T dedicated MR unit, before arthroscopic exploration. The tibiofemoral articular cartilage abnormalities were quantified blindly on both the MR and arthroscopic images with the French Society of Arthroscopy (SFA) score (0-100) and grading scheme (five grades).

Results: There was a statistically significant correlation between the SFA-arthroscopic score and the SFA-MR score (r = .83) and between the SFA-arthroscopic grade and the SFA-MR grade (weighted kappa = 0.84). The deepest cartilage lesions graded with arthroscopy and MR imaging showed correlation in the medial femoral condyle (weighted kappa = 0.83) and in the medial tibial plateau (weighted kappa = 0.84). The intraobserver reliability of the SFA-MR score was higher (r = .94) than the interobserver reliability (r = .80).

Conclusion: Quantification of chondropathy with MR imaging is feasible and well correlated with anatomic cartilage breakdown.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Femur / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Osteoarthritis / classification
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tibia / pathology