Baseline Cartilage Thickness and Meniscus Extrusion Predict Longitudinal Cartilage Loss by Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Data From the Osteoarthritis Initiative

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This study aimed to assess how meniscus damage and baseline cartilage thickness influence the rate of cartilage loss and knee pain.


Of 4796 participants in the Osteoarthritis Initiative, 86 had baseline and 48-month follow-up quantitative magnetic resonance imaging data for medial compartment cartilage thickness. Baseline meniscus pathology was scored by a musculoskeletal radiologist using Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score. Findings were correlated with 72-month Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score.


Univariate analysis showed cartilage change was not influenced by demographic variables. Multivariable regression revealed that initial cartilage thickness (−1.07 mm at 48 months for every 1 mm decrease at baseline, P < 0.001) and meniscus extrusion (−0.33 mm if present at baseline, P < 0.001) were the strongest predictors of medial compartment cartilage thickness at 48 months. Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score pain scores did not correlate with cartilage loss.


Baseline cartilage thickness and meniscus extrusion are important and independent predictors for accelerated cartilage loss. However, the degree of cartilage loss did not correlate with midterm change in clinical outcome scores.

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