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Radiology. 2005 Dec;237(3):993-7. Epub 2005 Oct 26.

Clinical course of knees with asymptomatic meniscal abnormalities: findings at 2-year follow-up after MR imaging-based diagnosis.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Orthopedic University Hospital Balgrist, Forchstrasse 340, CH-8008 Zurich, Switzerland.



To prospectively evaluate the clinical course of asymptomatic meniscal lesions diagnosed by using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.


Institutional review board approval and informed consent were obtained. The clinical courses of meniscal lesions in 84 asymptomatic knees (in 48 men and 36 women; mean age, 43.6 years; age range, 18-73 years) were assessed. Thirty-one asymptomatic meniscal lesions were depicted among the 84 knees at MR imaging. The follow-up period was at least 2 years (mean, 29.8 months; range, 24-36 months). Knee pain, stiffness, and function during daily and sports activities were assessed by using a visual analogue scale (VAS), on which a score of 0 indicated no pain or complaints and a score of 100 indicated maximal pain and/or complaints. The chi2 test was used for statistical analysis.


At follow-up, 12 (39%) of the 31 patients with and 10 (19%) of the 53 patients without meniscal lesions reported having knee pain (P = .046). Nine (29%) patients with and five (9%) patients without meniscal lesions reported having knee stiffness (P = .02). Ten (32%) patients with and five (9%) patients without meniscal lesions reported having impaired function during daily activities (P = .008). Thirteen (42%) patients with and 15 (28%) patients without meniscal lesions reported having impaired function during sports activities (P = .20). Mean VAS scores ranged from 22 to 30; mean VAS scores for pain, stiffness, impaired daily function, and impaired sports function were 26, 22, 27, and 30, respectively. None of the initially asymptomatic knees was treated with surgery during the follow-up period.


The clinical course of knees with initially asymptomatic meniscal lesions, compared with the clinical course of knees without meniscal lesions, is characterized by an increased frequency of complaints. However, severities of pain and knee function impairment remain low.

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