Natural history of new horizontal meniscal tears in individuals at risk for and with mild to moderate osteoarthritis: data from osteoarthritis initiative

Magdalena Posadzy, Gabby B. Joseph, Charles E. McCulloch, Michael C. Nevitt, John A. Lynch, Nancy E. Lane, Thomas M. Link

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To study the natural history of new horizontal meniscal tears and their association with progression of cartilage degeneration in individuals at risk for or with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis over 4 years. Methods: Individuals who developed a new meniscal tear in the right knee over 2 years were selected from the Osteoarthritis Initiative 3T MRI studies. Knee structural changes were analyzed at the time of tear appearance (baseline), and after 4 years using a modified Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score (WORMS). Meniscal tears were classified as either horizontal tears or non-horizontal tears. Individuals without a meniscal tear were 1:3 frequency matched according to BMI, gender, race, and age and served as the control group. Linear regression analysis was used to compare cross-sectional and longitudinal changes in cartilage WORMS scores. Results: Forty-one subjects developed horizontal tears, including one indiviudal who developed a tear in both menisci, and 34 developed non-horizonal tears. We found that (29/41 (70.7%)) of horizontal and (20/34 (58.8%)) of non-horizonatal tears were stable during follow-up (p = 0.281). Although knees with an incident tear had higher than controls WORMS MAX total knee scores at baseline (coef. = 0.47, p = 0.044, 95% CI = 0.01 to 0.93), there were no significant differences between the horizontal subgroup and knees without tears in overall cartilage scores at baseline and in progression over 4 years of follow-up. Conclusions: New horizontal meniscal tears tended to be stable over 4 years and presented no significant differences in progression of cartilage degeneration when compared with knees without tears. Key Points: • Most of horizonal meniscal tears were stable over 4 years. • There were no statistically significant differences in overall progression of cartilage degenerative changes between knees with horizonal meniscal tears and control knees without tears • Horizontal tears most often occurred at the posterior horn of the medial meniscus and at the body of the lateral meniscus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Radiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Meniscus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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