Assessment of bone marrow oedema-like lesions using MRI in patellofemoral knee osteoarthritis: comparison of different MRI pulse sequences

Henry Noorveriandi, Matthew J Parkes, Michael J Callaghan, David T Felson, Terence W O'Neill, Richard Hodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To compare bone marrow oedema-like lesion (BML) volume in subjects with symptomatic patellofemoral (PF) knee osteoarthritis (OA) using four different MRI sequences and to determine reliability of BML volume assessment using these sequences and their correlation with pain.

METHODS: 76 males and females (mean age 55.8 years) with symptomatic patellofemoral knee OA had 1.5 T MRI scans. PD fat suppressed (FS), STIR, contrast-enhanced (CE) T1W FS, and 3D T1W fast field echo (FFE) sequences were obtained. All sequences were assessed by one reader, including repeat assessment of 15 knees using manual segmentation and the measurements were compared. We used random-effects panel linear regression to look for differences in the log-transformed BML volume (due to positive skew in the BML volume distribution) between sequences and to determine associations between BML volumes and knee pain.

RESULTS: 58 subjects had PF BMLs present on at least one sequence. Median BML volume measured using T1W FFE sequence was significantly smaller (224.7 mm3, interquartile range [IQR] 82.50-607.95) than the other three sequences. BML volume was greatest on the CE sequence (1129.8 mm3, IQR 467.28-3166.02). Compared to CE sequence, BML volumes were slightly lower when assessed using PDFS (proportional difference = 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.62, 1.01) and STIR sequences (proportional difference = 0.85; 95% CI 0.67, 1.08). There were strong correlations between BML volume on PDFS, STIR, and CE T1W FS sequences (ρs = 0.98). Correlations were lower between these three sequences and T1W FFE (ρs = 0.80-0.81). Intraclass correlation coefficients were excellent for proton density fat-suppressed, short-tau inversion recovery, and CE T1W FS sequences (0.991-0.995), while the ICC for T1W FFE was good at 0.88. We found no significant association between BML volumes assessed using any of the sequences and knee pain.

CONCLUSION: T1W FFE sequences were less reliable and measured considerably smaller BML volume compared to other sequences. BML volume was larger when assessed using the contrast enhanced T1W FS though not statistically significantly different from BMLs when assessed using PDFS and STIR sequences.

ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE: This is the first study to assess BMLs by four different MRI pulse sequences on the same data set, including different fluid sensitive sequences and gradient echo type sequence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20201367
JournalThe British journal of radiology
Issue number1124
Early online date14 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Marrow Diseases/complications
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Edema/complications
  • Female
  • Femur/diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee/complications
  • Patella/diagnostic imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results


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