MRI signal-based quantification of subchondral bone at the tibial plateau: a population study

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To determine whether differences in subchondral sclerosis at the tibial plateau could be detected with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in two different age groups.

Materials and methods
This was a retrospective hypothesis-testing study. Thirty-two knees in group A (25–30 year olds) and 32 knees in group B (45–50 years old) were included. Participants had no MR features of osteoarthritis (OA). On coronal images, tibial articular cartilage thickness was measured, and regions of interest were created in the medial and lateral tibial plateau subchondral bone and in the tibial metaphysis. The measure of heterogeneity at the tibial plateaux was the ratio of the standard deviation of the signal in the medial/lateral compartment to the standard deviation of the signal in the metaphysis (ratio of standard deviations - RSSmedial/RSSlateral). Differences between groups were assessed using unpaired Student’s t-tests.

Mean RSSmedial was 2.61 (standard deviation, SD = 0.77) in group A and 2.97 (SD = 0.59) in group B. Mean RSSlateral in group A was 1.86 (SD = 0.63) and 1.89 (SD = 0.43) in group B. Mean total cartilage thickness (in mm) in group A was 3.38 (SD = 0.90) for the medial and 3.90 (SD = 1.09) for the lateral compartment and 3.44 (SD = 0.74) for the medial and 3.96 (SD = 0.96) for the lateral compartment in group B. The only parameter to show a statistically significant difference between groups was RSSmedial (p = 0.04).

A difference in medial subchondral bone sclerosis between two age groups was demonstrated in the absence of MR features of OA. This may represent the earliest OA change detectable on MR imaging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1567–1575
Number of pages9
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Early online date2 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

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