Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA). Delayed Gadolinium enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of cartilage (dGEMRIC) investigates cartilage integrity through T1-analysis after intravenous contrast injection. A high dGEMRIC index represents good cartilage quality. The main purpose of this prospective cohort study was to investigate the prognostic value of the dGEMRIC index regarding future knee OA.
31 patients with ACL injury (mean age 27 ± 6.7 (±SD) years, 19 males) were examined after 2 years with 1.5T dGEMRIC of femoral cartilage. Re-examination 14 years post-injury included weight-bearing knee radiographs, Lysholm and Knee Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS).
At the 14-year follow up radiographic OA (ROA) was present in 68% and OA symptoms (SOA) in 42% of the injured knees. The dGEMRIC index of the medial compartment was lower in knees that developed medial ROA, 325 ± 68 (ms±SD) vs 376 ± 47 (51 (7–94)) (difference of means (95% confidence interval (CI))), in patients that developed symptomatic OA (SOA), 327 ± 61 vs 399 ± 42 (52 (11–93)), and poor knee function 337 ± 54 vs 381 ± 52 (48 (7–89)) compared to those that did not develop ROA, SOA or poor function. The dGEMRIC index correlated negatively with the OARSI osteophyte score in medial (r = −0.44, P = 0.01) and lateral (r = −0.38, P = 0.03) compartments.
The associations between a low dGEMRIC index and future ROA, as well as SOA, are in agreement with previous studies and indicate that dGEMRIC has a prognostic value for future knee OA.
- Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging