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Abstract

Objective

To use high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate the trabecular bone structure in the distal femur and the proximal tibia and its to correlate the findings with different stages of osteoarthritis (OA) of the human knee.

Methods

Axial images of the distal femur and proximal tibia were obtained at 1.5 T in patients without and with mild OA and with severe OA. The spatial resolution was 195 × 195 μm2 with a 1-mm slice thickness. Apparent measures of trabecular bone volume fraction (BV/TV), trabecular number (Tb.N), trabecular separation (Tb.Sp), and trabecular thickness (Tb.Th) were calculated.

Results

Significant differences existed in the trabecular bone structure of the femur and tibia. Differences in trabecular bone structure between the tibia and the femur decreased with the degree of OA. The apparent BV/TV, Tb.N, and Tb.Sp in the femoral condyles could be used to differentiate healthy patients or patients with mild OA from patients with severe OA (P < 0.05). Among individuals, the structural variation of the lateral and medial femoral condyle was indicative of the extent of the disease.

Conclusion

High-resolution MRI of the knee joint can provide a noninvasive assessment of trabecular bone structure. Trabecular bone structure, determined by high-resolution MRI, shows significant variation in patients with varying degrees of OA. The impact of OA on trabecular bone is different in the tibia than in the femur, and this difference depends on the extent of the disease.