Injuries to the hyaline cartilage of the knee joint are difficult to diagnose without invasive techniques. Even though these defects may be the most important prognostic factors in assessing knee joint injury, they are usually not diagnosed until arthrotomy or arthroscopy. Once injuries to hyaline cartilage are found and/or treated, no technique exists to follow these over time. Plain radiographs, arthrograms, and even computed tomography fail to detail most hyaline cartilage defects. We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluative five fresh frozen cadaver limbs and 10 patients whose pathology was known from arthrotomy or arthroscopic examination. Using a 0.35 Tesla superconducting magnet and spin-echo imaging technique with a head coil, we found that intraarticular fluid or air helped to delineate hyaline cartilage pathology. The multiplane capability of MRI proved to be excellent in detailing small (3 mm or more) defects on the femoral condyles and patellar surface. Cruciate ligaments were best visualized on sagittal oblique projections while meniscal pathology was best seen on true sagittal and coronal projections. MRI shows great promise in providing a noninvasive technique of evaluating hyaline cartilage defects, their response to treatment, and detailed anatomical information about cruciate ligaments and menisci.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation