Patients with patellofemoral pain exhibit elevated bone metabolic activity at the patellofemoral joint

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Abstract

Patellofemoral pain is characterized by pain behind the kneecap and is often thought to be due to high stress at the patellofemoral joint. While we cannot measure bone stress in vivo, we can visualize bone metabolic activity using 18F NaF PET/CT, which may be related to bone stress. Our goals were to use 18F NaF PET/CT to evaluate whether subjects with patellofemoral pain exhibit elevated bone metabolic activity and to determine whether bone metabolic activity correlates with pain intensity. We examined 20 subjects diagnosed with patellofemoral pain. All subjects received an 18F NaF PET/CT scan of their knees. Uptake of 18F NaF in the patella and trochlea was quantified by computing the standardized uptake value and normalizing by the background tracer uptake in bone. We detected increased tracer uptake in 85% of the painful knees examined. We found that the painful knees exhibited increased tracer uptake compared to the pain-free knees of four subjects with unilateral pain (P = 0.0006). We also found a correlation between increasing tracer uptake and increasing pain intensity (r2 = 0.55; P = 0.0005). The implication of these results is that patellofemoral pain may be related to bone metabolic activity at the patellofemoral joint. © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 30:209–213, 2012

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