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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1997 Jan;5(1):23-37.

Prevalence of degenerative morphological changes in the joints of the lower extremity.

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Basic Biomedical Science Department, Dr. W. M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60610, USA.


Information on the prevalence and extent of degenerative morphological changes (DMC) in the joints of the lower extremity, including foot joints is sparse. In the present study, the first and fifth metatarsalphalangeal (MTP), transverse tarsal, subtalar, talocrural, knee and hip joints of 50 cadavers were examined grossly and graded on a five-point scale for signs of DMC. Selected samples were examined histologically. Our results confirm clinical findings that severe DMC in foot joints are uncommon except in the first MTP joint where the plantar aspect is most affected. The knee joint displayed the most numerous and severe signs of DMC followed by the first MTP joint. The hip, talocrural, subtalar and transverse tarsal joints displayed comparatively moderate levels of DMC while the fifth MTP was rarely affected. The only joint to display significantly greater levels of DMC on the distal side of the joint as compared with the proximal side, when a difference was present, was the hip. There were significantly greater levels of DMC on the medial aspect of two or more joints within an extremity than on the lateral aspect. Radiographs often showed few or no signs of DMC even when erosion down to subchondral bone was observed upon gross examination.

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