Association between bone marrow lesions detected by magnetic resonance imaging and knee pain in community residents in Korea

28 January 2014

Objective: To describe the frequency of bonemarrowlesions (BMLs) detected bymagnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and to examine the association of BMLs with knee pain severity in community residents in Korea. Methods: Participants were randomly chosen from the population-based Hallym Aging Study, irrespective of whether they had knee osteoarthritis (OA) or pain. Demographic and knee pain data were obtained by questionnaire. Radiographic evaluations consisted of weight-bearing knee anteroposterior radiographs and 1.5-T MRI scans. MRI was performed in the dominant knees of subjects without knee pain and in the more symptomatic knees of subjects with knee pain. BMLs were graded according to the whole-organ MRI score. Results: The mean age of the 358 study subjects was 71.8 years, and 34.5% of subjects had radiographically detected knee OA. The prevalences of BMLs and large BMLs in the tibiofemoral compartments were 80.3% and 40.4%, respectively. After adjusting for age, sex, and body mass index, total and medial compartment BML scores were significantly associated with the presence of knee pain, and the association was stronger as the summary score for BML increased. In proportional regression analysis, knee pain severity increased with BML severity in any compartment and in the medial compartment. Conclusion: BMLs detected by MRI were highly prevalent in this elderly Asian population. BMLs were significantly linked to knee pain, and BML severity correlated with knee pain severity. BMLs may be important surrogate targets for monitoring pain and structure modification in OA therapeutics.