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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2007 Jan;15(1):98-103. Epub 2006 Aug 4.

Longitudinal study of magnetic resonance imaging and standard X-rays to assess disease progression in osteoarthritis.

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WHO Collaborating Center for Public Health Aspects of Osteoarticular Disorders, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.



To investigate, over 1-year, the relationship between X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA).


Sixty-two osteoarthritic patients (46 women) were followed for 1 year. At baseline and after 1 year, volume and thickness of cartilage of the medial tibia, the lateral tibia and the femur were assessed by MRI. A global score from the multi-feature whole-organ MRI scoring system (WORMS) was calculated for each patient at baseline and after 1 year. This score combined individual scores for articular cartilage, osteophytes, bone marrow abnormality, subchondral cysts and bone attrition in 14 locations. It also incorporated scores for the medial and lateral menisci, anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, medial and lateral collateral ligaments and synovial distension. Lateral and medial femoro-tibial joint space width (JSW) measurements, performed by digital image analysis, were assessed from fixed-flexion, postero-anterior knee radiographs.


One-year changes in medial femoro-tibial JSW reach 6.7 (20.5) % and changes in medial cartilage volume and thickness reach 0.4 (16.7) % and 2.1 (11.3) %, respectively. Medial femoro-tibial joint space narrowing (JSN) after 1 year, assessed by radiography, was significantly correlated with a loss of medial tibial cartilage volume (r=0.25, P=0.046) and medial tibial cartilage thickness (r=0.28, P=0.025), over the same period. We found also a significant correlation between the progression of the WORMS and radiographic medial JSN over 1 year (r=-0.35, P=0.006). All these results remained statistically significant after adjusting for age, sex and body mass index.


This study shows a moderate but significant association between changes in JSW and changes in cartilage volume or thickness in knee joint of osteoarthritic patients.

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