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MRI and knee OA

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Osteoarthritis of the knee and MRI (1,2)

  • in a study (2) 710 patients over the age of 50 with normal x-rays of the tibiofemoral joint underwent an MRI scan of the knee
    • of the 710, 206 (29%) reported knee pain in the preceding month
      • 631 (89%) had some abnormality characteristic of OA
      • osteophytes were the most common finding, in 524 (74%) patients
      • 492 (69%) patients had articular cartilage defects
      • prevalence of abnormalities increased with age, as might be expected
    • abnormalities were almost universal in patients reporting knee pain (90-97%, depending on definition of pain) but still remarkably high in patients not reporting knee pain (86-88%), calling into question the clinical significance of MRI findings

    • this study casts doubt on the usefulness of MRI in the decision making regarding management of knee OA
      • " the pictures may be better and certainly more interesting, but whether imaging will lead to more effective treatment seems doubtful based on the findings of this study.." (1)


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