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Radiology. 2019 Oct 15:190341. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2019190341. [Epub ahead of print]

Intra-articular Corticosteroid Injections in the Hip and Knee: Perhaps Not as Safe as We Thought?

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From the Department of Radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, 820 Harrison Ave, FGH Building, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02118 (A.J.K., F.W.R., A.M.M., L.E.D., M.D.C., A.G.); Department of Radiology, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany (F.W.R.); Department of Radiology, Veterans Affairs Hospital, Boston, Mass (L.E.D., A.G.); and Institute of Sports Imaging, French National Institute of Sports (INSEP), Paris, France (M.D.C.).


Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip and knee is among the most common joint disorders. Intra-articular corticosteroid (IACS) injections are frequently performed to treat OA and other joint-related pain syndromes; however, there is conflicting evidence on their potential benefit. There is a lack of prospective and large retrospective studies evaluating potential joint findings, including increased risk for accelerated OA progression or adverse joint events, after treatment with IACS injection. Four main adverse joint findings have been structurally observed in patients after IACS injections: accelerated OA progression, subchondral insufficiency fracture, complications of osteonecrosis, and rapid joint destruction, including bone loss. Physicians, including radiologists, should be familiar with imaging findings and patient characteristics that may help them identify potential joints at risk for such events. The purpose of this report is to review the existing literature, describe observed adverse joint events after IACS injections, and provide an outlook on how this may affect clinical practice. Additional research endeavors are urgently needed to better understand and identify risk factors prior to intervention and to detect adverse joint events after injection as early as possible to prevent or minimize complications.


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