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The Clinical Utility and Diagnostic Performance of MRI for Identification and Classification of Knee Osteochondritis Dissecans
Carmen E. Quatman, MD, PhD1; Catherine C. Quatman-Yates, PT, DPT, PhD2; Laura C. Schmitt, PT, MPT, PhD1; Mark V. Paterno, PT, PhD, SCS, MBA, ATC2
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (C.E.Q.), Sports Health and Performance Institute (C.E.Q. and L.S.), and Division of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Services (L.S.), Ohio State University, 2050 Kenny Road, Suite 3100, Columbus, OH 43221. E-mail address for C.E. Quatman: Carmen.quatman@gmail.com
2 Human Performance Laboratory at the Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center (C.C.Q.-Y. and M.P.), Department of Pediatrics (M.P.), and Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy (C.C.Q.-Y. and M.P.), Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnett Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229
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Investigation performed at the Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Jun 06;94(11):1036-1044. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00275
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common clinical tool used to diagnose and monitor the progression and/or healing of osteochondritis dissecans of the knee. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the literature relative to the following questions: (1) Is MRI a valid, sensitive, specific, accurate, and reliable imaging modality to identify knee osteochondritis dissecans compared with arthroscopy? (2) Is MRI a sensitive tool that can be utilized to characterize lesion severity and stability of osteochondritis dissecans fragments in the knee?


A systematic search was performed in December 2010 with use of PubMed MEDLINE (from 1966), CINAHL (from 1982), SPORTDiscus (from 1985), Scopus (from 1996), and EMBASE (from 1974) databases.


Seven studies, four Level-II and three Level-III investigations, met the specified inclusion criteria. No randomized controlled studies were identified. Because of inconsistencies between imaging techniques and methodological shortcomings of many of the studies, a meta-analysis was not performed.


The limited available evidence, methodological inconsistencies in imaging techniques, and lack of standardized grading criteria used in current studies prevent clear conclusions regarding the diagnostic and specific staging equivalency of MRI with arthroscopy. However, available evidence supports the use of MRI to detect the stability or instability of the lesion. Given the benefits of the use of MRI as a noninvasive tool to diagnose, predict lesion progression, and assess clinical outcomes of treatment, there is a pressing need for high-level, systematic, sound, and thorough studies related to the clinical utility of MRI for assessing osteochondritis dissecans of the knee.

Level of Evidence: 

Diagnostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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