Systematic review and meta-analysis of the reliability and discriminative validity of cartilage compositional MRI in knee osteoarthritis

James Mackay, Samantha B. L. Low, Toby Smith, Andoni Toms, Andrew McCaskie, Fiona Gilbert

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Objective: To assess reliability and discriminative validity of cartilage compositional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in knee osteoarthritis (OA). 
Design: The study was carried out per PRISMA recommendations. We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE (1974 - present) for eligible studies. We performed qualitative synthesis of reliability data. Where data from at least 2 discrimination studies were available, we estimated pooled standardized mean difference (SMD) between subjects with and without OA. Discrimination analyses compared controls and subjects with mild OA (Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grade 1-2), severe OA (KL grade 3-4) and OA not otherwise specified (NOS) where not possible to stratify. We assessed quality of the evidence using QAREL and QUADAS-2 tools. 
Results: Fifty-eight studies were included in the reliability analysis and 25 studies were included in the discrimination analysis, with data from a total of 1,989 knees. Intra-observer, inter-observer and test-retest reliability of compositional techniques were excellent with most intraclass correlation coefficients > 0.8 and coefficients of variation < 10%. T1rho and T2 relaxometry were significant discriminators between subjects with mild OA and controls, and between subjects with OA (NOS) and controls (p < 0.001). T1rho showed best discrimination for mild OA (SMD [95% CI] = 0.73 [0.40 to 1.06], p < 0.001) and OA (NOS) (0.60 [0.41 to 0.80], p < 0.001). Quality of evidence was moderate for both parts of the review. 
Conclusions: Cartilage compositional MRI techniques are reliable and, in the case of T1rho and T2 relaxometry, can discriminate between subjects with OA and controls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1140-1152
Number of pages13
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number9
Early online date14 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • magnetic reasonance imaging
  • cartilage composition
  • quantitative cartilage imaging
  • cartilage mapping

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