radiology in osteoarthritis

Last reviewed 01/2018

Characteristic changes of OA are:

  • joint space narrowing - focal cartilage loss
  • subchondral sclerosis - increased trabecular thickness
  • bone cysts
  • osteophytes about the joint margins - central, marginal, periosteal
  • osteochondral "loose" bodies - islands of chondral metaplasia that have ossified

In the initial stages of OA the first three features are restricted to the load-bearing part of the osteoarthritic joint. In more advanced disease all five features are present on non-weight bearing and weight-bearing parts of the joint.