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Clinical and ultrasonographic predictors of joint replacement for knee osteoarthritis: results from a large, 3-year, prospective EULAR study


Objectives To determine clinical and ultrasonographic predictors of joint replacement surgery across Europe in primary osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

Methods This was a 3-year prospective study of a painful OA knee cohort (from a EULAR-sponsored, multicentre study). All subjects had clinical evaluation, radiographs and ultrasonography (US) at study entry. The rate of knee replacement surgery over the 3-year follow-up period was determined using Kaplan–Meier survival data analyses. Predictive factors for joint replacement were identified by univariate log-rank test then multivariate analysis using a Cox proportional-hazards regression model. Potential baseline predictors included demographic, clinical, radiographic and US features.

Results Of the 600 original patients, 531 (88.5%), mean age 67±10 years, mean disease duration 6.1±6.9 years, had follow-up data and were analysed. During follow-up (median 3 years; range 0–4 years), knee replacement was done or required for 94 patients (estimated event rate of 17.7%). In the multivariate analysis, predictors of joint replacement were as follows: Kellgren and Lawrence radiographic grade (grade ≥III vs <III, hazards ratio (HR) = 4.08 (95% CI 2.34 to 7.12), p<0.0001); ultrasonographic knee effusion (≥4 mm vs <4 mm) (HR = 2.63 (95% CI 1.70 to 4.06), p<0.0001); knee pain intensity on a 0–100 mm visual analogue scale (≥60 vs <60) (HR = 1.81 (95% CI 1.15 to 2.83), p=0.01) and disease duration (≥5 years vs <5 years) (HR=1.63 (95% CI 1.08 to 2.47), p=0.02). Clinically detected effusion and US synovitis were not associated with joint replacement in the univariate analysis.

Conclusion Longitudinal evaluation of this OA cohort demonstrated significant progression to joint replacement. In addition to severity of radiographic damage and pain, US-detected effusion was a predictor of subsequent joint replacement.

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