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Extended report
Early T2 changes predict onset of radiographic knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis initiative
  1. Hans Liebl1,
  2. Gabby Joseph2,
  3. Michael C Nevitt3,
  4. Nathan Singh2,
  5. Ursula Heilmeier2,
  6. Karupppasamy Subburaj2,
  7. Pia M Jungmann2,
  8. Charles E McCulloch3,
  9. John A Lynch3,
  10. Nancy E Lane4,
  11. Thomas M Link2
    1. 1Institut fuer diagnostische und interventionelle Roentgendiagnostik, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Munich Germany
    2. 2Musculoskeletal Quantitative Imaging Research Group, Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
    3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
    4. 4Center for Healthy Aging, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA
    1. Correspondence to Hans Liebl, Institut fuer diagnostische und interventionelle Roentgendiagnostik, Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Ismaningerstrasse 22, 81675 Munich, Germany; lieblhans{at}


    Objective To evaluate whether T2 relaxation time measurements obtained at 3 T MRI predict the onset of radiographic knee osteoarthritis (OA).

    Materials and methods We performed a nested case–control study of incident radiographic knee OA in the Osteoarthritis Initiative cohort. Cases were 50 knees with baseline Kellgren–Lawrence (KL) grade of 0 that developed KL grade of 2 or more over a 4-year period. Controls were 80 knees with KL grade of 0 after 4 years of follow-up. Baseline T2 relaxation time measurements and laminar analysis of T2 in deep and superficial layers were performed in all knee compartments. The association of T2 values with incident OA was assessed with logistic regression and differences in T2 values by case–control status with linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and other covariates.

    Results Baseline T2 values in all compartments except the medial tibia were significantly higher in knees that developed OA compared with controls and were particularly elevated in the superficial cartilage layers in all compartments. There was an increased likelihood of incident knee OA associated with higher baseline T2 values, particularly in the patella, adjusted OR per 1 SD increase in T2 (3.37 (95% CI 1.72 to 6.62)), but also in the medial femur (1.90 (1.07 to 3.39)), lateral femur (2.17 (1.11 to 4.25)) and lateral tibia (2.23 (1.16 to 4.31)).

    Conclusions These findings suggest that T2 values assessed when radiographic changes are not yet apparent may be useful in predicting the development of radiological tibiofemoral OA.

    • Osteoarthritis
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    • Knee Osteoarthritis

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