Does cartilage volume measurement or radiographic osteoarthritis at baseline independently predict ten-year cartilage volume loss? Epidemiology of musculoskeletal disorders

Andrew McBride, Hussain Ijaz Khan, Dawn Aitken, Louisa Chou, Changhai Ding, Leigh Blizzard, Jean Pierre Pelletier, Johanne Martel-Pelletier, Flavia Cicuttini, Graeme Jones

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Background: The aim of this study was to examine whether cartilage volume as measured by MRI and radiographic osteoarthritis (OA) at baseline predict cartilage volume loss over ten years independent of each other and other structural co-pathologies. Methods: 219 participants [mean-age 45(26-61); 57 % female] were studied at baseline and ten years. Approximately half were the adult offspring of subjects who underwent knee replacement for OA and the remainder were randomly selected controls. Joint space narrowing (JSN) and osteophytes were assessed on radiographs and cartilage volume (tibiofemoral), cartilage defects, bone marrow lesions and meniscal tears/extrusion were assessed on MRI. Results: Mean absolute and percentage per annum cartilage volume loss was 1284 mm3 and 1.91 % respectively in the medial compartment and 1007 mm3 and 1.38 % respectively in the lateral compartment. Higher baseline tibiofemoral cartilage volume was independently associated with greater absolute cartilage volume loss in both medial (β(95 % CI) = -300 (-399,-200)) and lateral (β = -338 (-443,-233)) compartments and percentage per annum loss in the lateral compartment(β = -0.15 (-0.29, -0.01)). Baseline JSN and osteophytes were associated with cartilage volume loss in the univariable analysis, however these associations did not persist after adjustment for other structural co-pathologies. Conclusion: Cross-sectional cartilage volume measurement independently predicts cartilage volume loss over 10 years and can be used to identify fast progressors in clinical trials. Radiographic JSN and osteophytes on the other hand are a reflection of other co-pathologies assessed on MRI and do not independently predict cartilage volume loss over 10 years.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2016


  • Cartilage volume
  • Knee
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Radiographs

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