Longitudinal assessment of cyst-like lesions of the knee and their relation to radiographic osteoarthritis and MRI-detected effusion and synovitis in patients with knee pain.

Research paper by Daichi D Hayashi, Frank W FW Roemer, Zineb Z Dhina, C Kent CK Kwoh, Michael J MJ Hannon, Carolyn C Moore, Ali A Guermazi

Indexed on: 17 Sep '10Published on: 17 Sep '10Published in: Arthritis Research & Therapy


The purpose of the present study was to determine the prevalence of cystic lesions and cyst-like bursitides in subjects with frequent knee pain and to assess their relation to radiographic osteoarthritis (OA) severity; to describe bilaterality and size fluctuation of the lesions over 6 months; and to assess relations between the prevalence of synovium-lined lesions communicating with the joint capsule and severity of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-detected effusion and synovitis.One hundred and sixty-three subjects (total 319 knees) aged 35 to 65 with chronic, frequent knee pain were included. Imaging with 3 Tesla MRI was performed at baseline and 6-month follow-up with the same protocols as those used in the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Severity of radiographic OA was assessed using the Kellgren-Lawrence grade (0 to 4). Severity of effusion and synovitis was graded 0 to 3 based on the Whole Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score system. The associations of cysts and cyst-like bursitides and severity of radiographic OA, MRI-detected effusion and synovitis were analyzed using logistic regression controlling for clustering by person. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to determine whether there was a significant change in the size of lesions between baseline and follow-up.At least one lesion (any type) was present in 222 (70%) knees. The most prevalent lesions were popliteal cysts (40%, 128/319), followed by subgastrocnemius bursitis (15%, 49/319) and proximal tibiofibular joint cysts (8%, 26/319). Bilateral lesions were seen in 49% of the subjects. Only popliteal cysts and subgastrocnemius bursitis showed a significant change in size (P < 0.001). No trend was observed between prevalence of any of the cyst-like lesions analyzed and the increasing radiographic OA severity. Increasing prevalence of subgastrocnemius bursitis was associated with increasing severity of effusion (P = 0.0072) and synovitis (P = 0.0033).None of the cyst-like lesions analyzed seems to be a marker of radiographic OA severity in knees with chronic frequent pain. Subgastrocnemius bursitis may be used as a marker of effusion/synovitis severity. Bilateral cyst-like lesions are relatively commonly observed in people with chronic knee pain.