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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2009 Sep;17(9):1177-85. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2009.03.008. Epub 2009 Mar 24.

Subregional femorotibial cartilage morphology in women--comparison between healthy controls and participants with different grades of radiographic knee osteoarthritis.

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Pfizer Global Research and Development, New London, CT, USA.



To identify subregional differences in femorotibial cartilage morphology between healthy controls and women with different grades of radiographic knee osteoarthritis (OA).


158 women aged > or =40 years were studied. Weight-bearing extended anterior-posterior (AP) and Lyon schuss radiographs were obtained and the Kellgren Lawrence grade (KLG) determined. 97 women had a body mass index (BMI)< or =28, no symptoms, and were AP KLG0. 61 women had a BMI> or =30, symptoms in the target knee, and mild (KLG2=31) to moderate (KLG3=30) medial femorotibial radiographic OA in the AP views. Coronal spoiled gradient echo water excitation sequences were acquired at 3.0 Tesla. Total plate and regional measures of cartilage morphology of the weight-bearing femorotibial joint were quantified.


KLG2 participants displayed, on average, thicker cartilage than healthy controls in the medial femorotibial compartment (particularly anterior subregion of the medial tibia (MT) and peripheral [external, internal] subregions of the medial femur), and in the lateral femur. KLG3 participants displayed significantly thinner cartilage than KLG0 participants in the medial weight-bearing femur (central subregion), in the external subregion of the MT, and in the internal subregion of the lateral tibia. These differences were generally unaffected when possible effects of demographic covariates were considered.


The results indicate that in femorotibial OA regional cartilage thickening and thinning may occur, dependent on the (radiographic) disease status of the joint. These changes appear to display a heterogeneous spatial pattern, where certain subregions are more strongly affected than others.

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