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Skeletal Radiol. 1997 Jul;26(7):424-7.

Meniscal position on routine MR imaging of the knee.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.



To determine the prevalence of meniscal protrusion (i.e. location of the outer edge of a meniscus beyond the tibial articular surface), and to determine its relationship with internal derangement, joint effusion, and degenerative arthropathy.


Sagittal and coronal MR images of 111 abnormal and 46 normal knees were evaluated for the presence of meniscal protrusion. We set 25% as the minimum amount of displacement considered abnormal because this was the smallest amount of displacement we could confidently discern. Presence of meniscal tear, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, joint effusion, or osteophytosis was also recorded.


Normal examinations demonstrated protrusion of the medial meniscus in 6.5% of sagittal images and 15% of coronal images, and of the lateral meniscus in 2% and 13%, respectively. Fisher's exact test demonstrated a statistically significant difference between the normal and abnormal groups for the medial meniscus on both sagittal (P < 0.0001) and coronal (P = 0.01) images, but not for the lateral meniscus in either plane (P > 0.2). A protruding medial meniscus was associated with effusion and osteophytosis (P < 0.05) but not with meniscal or ACL tear (P > 0.1). Posterior protrusion of the lateral meniscus was only associated with ACL injury (P < 0.0001); protruding anterior horns and bodies of lateral menisci were not associated with any of the four abnormalities. It is concluded that the medial meniscus may occasionally protrude more than 25% of its width, but protrusion is more often due to effusion and osteophytes. Protrusion of the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus is associated with ACL insufficiency, while protrusion of the body and anterior horn of the lateral meniscus is a normal variant.

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