Obesity increases the prevalence and severity of focal knee abnormalities diagnosed using 3T MRI in middle-aged subjects-data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative.
To study the effect of BMI on the prevalence, severity, and 36-month progression of early degenerative changes in the knee by using 3T MRI in middle-aged subjects without radiographic osteoarthritis (OA).We examined baseline and 36-month follow-up MR studies from 137 middle-aged individuals (45-55 years old) with risk factors for knee OA but no radiographic OA from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Subjects were grouped into three categories: normal BMI (BMI< 25 kg/m(2), n = 38), overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m(2), n = 37), and obese (BMI>= 30 kg/m(2), n = 62). Using 3T MRI, cartilage, meniscus, and bone marrow abnormalities were graded using the OA Whole-organ MR Imaging Score (WORMS). The statistical analysis was corrected as necessary for differences in age, sex, and OA risk factors other than BMI.The overall prevalence of lesions was 64% for meniscus and 79% for cartilage (including low grade lesions). At baseline, the prevalence and severity of knee lesions was positively associated with BMI, with a nearly fourfold increase in meniscal tears and more than twofold increase in high-grade cartilage defects in obese individuals relative to normal-weight subjects. Over the 36-month follow-up period, the number of new or worsening cartilage lesions of any grade was significantly higher in obese subjects (p = 0.039), while there was no significant difference in meniscal lesion progression.Obesity was associated with both higher prevalence and severity of early degenerative changes in the knee in middle-aged individuals without radiographic OA and with significantly increased cartilage lesion progression (of any grade) over 36 months.