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Radiologe. 2012 Nov;52(11):994-1002. doi: 10.1007/s00117-012-2365-5.

[Radiological imaging of osteoarthritis of the knee].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Department Radiologie, Medizinische Universität Innsbruck, Österreich.



Osteoarthritis is the most common degenerative age-related joint disease leading to typical degradation of articular cartilage with severe pain and limitation of joint motion.


Although knee radiographs are widely considered as the gold standard for the assessment of knee osteoarthritis in clinical and scientific settings they increasingly have significant limitations in situations when resolution and assessment of cartilage is required.


Analysis of osteoarthritis of the knee with conventional x-ray is associated with many technical limitations and is increasingly being replaced by high-quality assessment using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or sonography both in the clinical routine and scientific studies.


Novel imaging modalities such as MRI or ultrasound enable in vivo visualization of the quality of the cartilaginous structure and bone as well as all articular and periarticular tissue. Therefore, the limitations of radiographs in assessment of knee osteoarthritis could be overcome by these techniques. This review article aims to provide insights into the most important radiological features of knee osteoarthritis and systematic visualization with different imaging approaches.


The demographic development in western industrialized countries predicts an increase of ageing-related osteoarthritis of the knee for the next decades. A systematic radiological evaluation of patients with knee osteoarthritis includes the assessment of the periarticular soft tissue, cartilaginous thickness, cartilage volume, possible cartilage defects, the macromodular network of hyaline cartilage, bone marrow edema, menisci and articular ligaments. Modern imaging modalities, such as MRI and sonography allow the limitations of conventional radiography to be overcome and to visualize the knee structures in great detail to quantitatively assess the severity of knee osteoarthritis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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