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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2011 February;102(1):15-32

language: English

Imaging in osteoarthritis: what have we learned and where are we going?

Hayashi D. 1, Guermazi A. 1,2, Crema M. D. 1,2,3,4, Roemer F. W. 1,2,5

1 Quantitative Imaging Center, Department of Radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA;
2 Boston Imaging Core Lab, LLC, Boston, MA, USA;
3 Institute of Diagnostic Imaging, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil;
4 Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil;
5 Department of Radiology, Klinikum Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a widely prevalent disease of the whole joint including cartilage, bone and soft tissues. Increasing importance of imaging including assessment of all joint structures has been recognized recently. Conventional radiography is still the first and most commonly used imaging technique for evaluation of a patient with a known or suspected diagnosis of OA. However, limitations have been revealed by recent MRI-based knee OA studies. MRI plays a crucial role in understanding the natural history of the disease and in guiding future therapies due to its ability to image the knee as a whole organ and to directly and three-dimensionally assess cartilage morphology and composition. It is crucial to use the appropriate MR pulse sequences to assess various OA features, and thus support from experienced musculoskeletal radiologists should be sought for study design, image acquisition and interpretation. The aim of this article is to describe the roles and limitations of conventional radiography and MRI in imaging of OA, and also to give insight into the use of other modalities such as ultrasound, scintigraphy, computed tomography (CT) and CT arthrography in clinical practice and research in OA, particularly focusing on the assessment of knee OA in the tibiofemoral joint.

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