Osteoarthritis may result from abnormal mechanics leading to biochemically mediated degradation of cartilage. In a dysplastic hip, the periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) is designed to normalize the mechanics and our initial analysis suggests that it may also alter the cartilage biochemical composition. Articular cartilage structure and biology vary with the depth from the articular surface including the concentration of glycosaminoglycans (GAG), which are the charge macromolecules that are rapidly turned over and are lost in early osteoarthritis. Delayed gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of cartilage (dGEMRIC) enables noninvasive measurement of cartilage GAG content. The dGEMRIC index represents an indirect measure of GAG concentration with lower values indicating less GAG content. GAG content can normally vary with mechanical loading; however, progressive loss of GAG is associated with osteoarthritis. By looking at the changes in amounts of GAG in response to a PAO at different depths of cartilage, we may gain further insights into the types of biologic events that are occurring in the joint after a PAO.Questions/purposes
We (1) measured the GAG content in the superficial and deep zones for the entire joint before and after PAO; and (2) investigated if the changes in the superficial and deep zone GAG content after PAO varied with different locations within the joint.Methods
This prospective study included 37 hips in 37 patients (mean age 26 ± 9 years) who were treated with periacetabular osteotomy for symptomatic acetabular dysplasia and had preoperative and 1-year follow up dGEMRIC scans. Twenty-eight of the 37 also had 2-year scans. Patients were eligible if they had symptomatic acetabular dysplasia with lateral center-edge angle < 20° and no or minimal osteoarthritis. The change in dGEMRIC after surgery was assessed in the superficial and deep cartilage zones at five acetabular radial planes.Results
The mean ± SD dGEMRIC index in the superficial zone fell from 480 ± 137 msec preoperatively to 409 ± 119 msec at Year 1 (95% confidence interval [CI], −87 to −54; p < 0.001) and recovered to 451 ± 115 msec at Year 2 (95% CI, 34-65; p < 0.001), suggesting that there is a transient event that causes the biologically sensitive superficial layer to lose GAG. In the deep acetabular cartilage zone, dGEMRIC index fell from 527 ± 148 msec preoperatively to 468 ± 143 msec at Year 1 (95% CI, −66 to −30; p < 0.001) and recovered to 494 ± 125 msec at Year 2 (95% CI, 5-32; p = 0.008). When each acetabular radial plane was looked at separately, the change from before surgery to 1 year after was confined to zones around the superior part of the joint. The only significant change from 1 to 2 years was an increase in the superficial layer of the superior zone (1 year 374 ± 123 msec, 2 year 453 ± 117 msec, p < 0.006).Conclusions
This study suggests that PAO may alter the GAG content of the articular cartilage with a greater effect on the superficial zone compared with the deeper acetabular cartilage zone, especially at the superior aspect of the joint. Some surgeons have observed that surgery itself can be a stressor that can accelerate joint degeneration. Perhaps the decrease in dGEMRIC index seen in the superficial layer may be a catabolic response to postsurgical inflammation given that some recovery was seen at 2 years. The decrease in dGEMRIC index in the deep layer seen mainly near the superior part of the joint is persistent and may represent a response of articular cartilage to normalization of increased mechanical load seen in this region after osteotomy, which may be a normal response to alteration in loading.Clinical Relevance
This study looks at the biochemical changes in the articular cartilage before and after a PAO for dysplastic hips using MRI in a similar manner to using histological methods to study alterations in articular cartilage with mechanical loading. Although PAO alters alignment and orientation of the acetabulum, its effects on cartilage biology are not clear. dGEMRIC provides a noninvasive method of assessing these effects.