Quantitative CT of the knee in the IMI-APPROACH osteoarthritis cohort: Association of bone mineral density with radiographic disease severity, meniscal coverage and meniscal extrusion

Rafael Heiss*, Jean-Denis Laredo, Wolfgang Wirth, Mylène P Jansen, Anne C A Marijnissen, Floris Lafeber, Agnes Lalande, Harrie H Weinans, Francisco J Blanco, Francis Berenbaum, Margreet Kloppenburg, Ida K Haugen, Klaus Engelke, Frank W Roemer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly prevalent chronic condition. The subchondral bone plays an important role in onset and progression of OA making it a potential treatment target for disease-modifying therapeutic approaches. However, little is known about changes of periarticular bone mineral density (BMD) in OA and its relation to meniscal coverage and meniscal extrusion at the knee. Thus, the aim of this study was to describe periarticular BMD in the Applied Public-Private Research enabling OsteoArthritis Clinical Headway (APPROACH) cohort at the knee and to analyze the association with structural disease severity, meniscal coverage and meniscal extrusion. Design: Quantitative CT (QCT), MRI and radiographic examinations were acquired in 275 patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). QCT was used to assess BMD at the femur and tibia, at the cortical bone plate (Cort) and at the epiphysis at three locations: subchondral (Sub), mid-epiphysis (Mid) and adjacent to the physis (Juxta). BMD was evaluated for the medial and lateral compartment separately and for subregions covered and not covered by the meniscus. Radiographs were used to determine the femorotibial angle and were evaluated according to the Kellgren and Lawrence (KL) system. Meniscal extrusion was assessed from 0 to 3. Results: Mean BMD differed significantly between each anatomic location at both the femur and tibia (p < 0.001) in patients with KL0. Tibial regions assumed to be covered with meniscus in patients with KL0 showed lower BMD at Sub (p < 0.001), equivalent BMD at Mid (p = 0.07) and higher BMD at Juxta (p < 0.001) subregions compared to regions not covered with meniscus. Knees with KL2–4 showed lower Sub (p = 0.03), Mid (p = 0.01) and Juxta (p < 0.05) BMD at the medial femur compared to KL0/1. Meniscal extrusion grade 2 and 3 was associated with greater BMD at the tibial Cort (p < 0.001, p = 0.007). Varus malalignment is associated with significant greater BMD at the medial femur and at the medial tibia at all anatomic locations. Conclusion: BMD within the epiphyses of the tibia and femur decreases with increasing distance from the articular surface. Knees with structural OA (KL2–4) exhibit greater cortical BMD values at the tibia and lower BMD at the femur at the subchondral level and levels beneath compared to KL0/1. BMD at the tibial cortical bone plate is greater in patients with meniscal extrusion grade 2/3.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116673
Number of pages10
Early online date7 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Bone mineral density
  • Knee
  • Multicenter study
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Quantitative CT


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