Machine-learning, MRI bone shape and important clinical outcomes in osteoarthritis: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative

Michael A. Bowes, Katherine Kacena, Oras A. Alabas, Alan D. Brett, Bright Dube, Neil Bodick, Philip G. Conaghan

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Objectives Osteoarthritis (OA) structural status is imperfectly classified using radiographic assessment. Statistical shape modelling (SSM), a form of machine-learning, provides precise quantification of a characteristic 3D OA bone shape. We aimed to determine the benefits of this novel measure of OA status for assessing risks of clinically important outcomes. Methods The study used 4796 individuals from the Osteoarthritis Initiative cohort. SSM-derived femur bone shape (B-score) was measured from all 9433 baseline knee MRIs. We examined the relationship between B-score, radiographic Kellgren-Lawrence grade (KLG) and current and future pain and function as well as total knee replacement (TKR) up to 8 years. Results B-score repeatability supported 40 discrete grades. KLG and B-score were both associated with risk of current and future pain, functional limitation and TKR; logistic regression curves were similar. However, each KLG included a wide range of B-scores. For example, for KLG3, risk of pain was 34.4 (95% CI 31.7 to 37.0)%, but B-scores within KLG3 knees ranged from 0 to 6; for B-score 0, risk was 17.0 (16.1 to 17.9)% while for B-score 6, it was 52.1 (48.8 to 55.4)%. For TKR, KLG3 risk was 15.3 (13.3 to 17.3)%; while B-score 0 had negligible risk, B-score 6 risk was 35.6 (31.8 to 39.6)%. Age, sex and body mass index had negligible effects on association between B-score and symptoms. Conclusions B-score provides reader-independent quantification using a single time-point, providing unambiguous OA status with defined clinical risks across the whole range of disease including pre-radiographic OA. B-score heralds a step-change in OA stratification for interventions and improved personalised assessment, analogous to the T-score in osteoporosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-508
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the rheumatic diseases
Issue number4
Early online date13 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2021


  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Osteoarthritis


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