Lack of association between chondrocalcinosis and increased risk of cartilage loss in knees with osteoarthritis: Results of two prospective longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging studies




To evaluate the relationship between chondrocalcinosis and the progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA) using longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assessments.


Longitudinal knee MRIs were obtained in the Boston OA Knee Study (BOKS) and in the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study. Chondrocalcinosis was determined as present or absent on baseline knee radiographs. Cartilage morphology was graded on paired longitudinal MRIs using the Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score in 5 cartilage subregions of each of the medial and lateral tibiofemoral joints. Cartilage loss in a subregion was defined as an increase in the cartilage score of ≥1 (0–4 scale). The risk for change in the number of subregions with cartilage loss was assessed using Poisson regression, with generalized estimating equations to account for correlations. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, baseline cartilage score, and presence of damaged menisci.


In BOKS, 23 of the 265 included knees (9%) had chondrocalcinosis. In Health ABC, 373 knees were included, of which 69 knees (18.5%) had chondrocalcinosis. In BOKS, knees with chondrocalcinosis had a lower risk of cartilage loss compared with knees without chondrocalcinosis (adjusted risk ratio [RR] 0.4, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.2–0.7) (P = 0.002), and there was no difference in risk in Health ABC (adjusted RR 0.9, 95% CI 0.6–1.5) (P = 0.7). Stratification by intact versus damaged menisci produced similar results within each cohort.


In knees with OA, the presence of chondrocalcinosis was not associated with increased cartilage loss. These findings do not support the hypothesis that chondrocalcinosis worsens OA progression.