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Knee Problems Linked to Cartilage Loss in Osteoarthritis

Meniscal damage, varus malalignment associated with cartilage loss, denuded bone

FRIDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Medial meniscal damage and varus malalignment, and lateral meniscal damage predicted tibial and femoral cartilage loss over a two-year period in patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to research published in the June issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Leena Sharma, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from MRIs of 251 knees of 153 individuals at baseline and two-year follow-up. The researchers sought to assess whether a variety of factors predicted tibiofemoral cartilage loss after controlling for the other factors.

After adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, medial meniscal extrusion, varus malalignment and lateral laxity, medial meniscal damage predicted medial tibial cartilage volume loss and increase of tibial and femoral denuded bone. Varus malalignment predicted loss of medial tibial cartilage volume and thickness and increase of denuded bone. Also, lateral meniscal damage was associated with every outcome in the lateral tibial and femoral surfaces, the researchers report.

"The absence of disease-modifying therapy increases the need to identify factors underlying progressive cartilage loss as potential targets for intervention," the authors write. "These results support further work to define optimal interventions for meniscal tears in the setting of knee osteoarthritis and the study of emerging interventions targeting the varus-malaligned osteoarthritic knee.

A study co-author disclosed financial relationships with several pharmaceutical companies.

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