Cartilage Quality (dGEMRIC Index) Following Knee Joint Distraction or High Tibial Osteotomy

Besselink, Nick J, Vincken, Koen L, Bartels, L Wilbert, van Heerwaarden, Ronald J, Concepcion, Arno N, Marijnissen, Anne C A, Spruijt, Sander, Custers, Roel J H, van der Woude, Jan-Ton A D, Wiegant, Karen, Welsing, Paco M J, Mastbergen, Simon C, Lafeber, Floris P J G


Cartilage 11 (1), p. 19-31


Objective High tibial osteotomy (HTO) and knee joint distraction (KJD) are treatments to unload the osteoarthritic (OA) joint with proven success in postponing a total knee arthroplasty (TKA). While both treatments demonstrate joint repair, there is limited information about the quality of the regenerated tissue. Therefore, the change in quality of the repaired cartilaginous tissue after KJD and HTO was studied using delayed gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of cartilage (dGEMRIC). Design Forty patients (20 KJD and 20 HTO), treated for medial tibiofemoral OA, were included in this study. Radiographic outcomes, clinical characteristics, and cartilage quality were evaluated at baseline, and at 1- and 2-year follow-up. Results Two years after KJD treatment, clear clinical improvement was observed. Moreover, a statistically significant increased medial (Δ 0.99 mm), minimal (Δ 1.04 mm), and mean (Δ 0.68 mm) radiographic joint space width (JSW) was demonstrated. Likewise, medial (Δ 1.03 mm), minimal (Δ 0.72 mm), and mean (Δ 0.46 mm) JSW were statistically significantly increased on radiographs after HTO. There was on average no statistically significant change in dGEMRIC indices over two years and no difference between treatments. Yet there seemed to be a clinically relevant, positive relation between increase in cartilage quality and patients' experienced clinical benefit. Conclusions Treatment of knee OA by either HTO or KJD leads to clinical benefit, and an increase in cartilage thickness on weightbearing radiographs for over 2 years posttreatment. This cartilaginous tissue was on average not different from baseline, as determined by dGEMRIC, whereas changes in quality at the individual level correlated with clinical benefit.