Open Access Research article

Meniscus body position and its change over four years in asymptomatic adults: a cohort study using data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI)

Katharina Bruns1, Fredrik Svensson2, Aleksandra Turkiewicz2, Wolfgang Wirth13, Ali Guermazi4, Felix Eckstein13 and Martin Englund25*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Anatomy and Musculoskeletal Research, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria

2 Department of Orthopedics, Clinical Sciences Lund, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

3 Chondrometrics GmbH, Ainring, Germany

4 Department of Radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

5 Clinical Epidemiology Research & Training Unit, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-32

Published: 5 February 2014



A high degree of meniscal body extrusion on knee magnetic resonance imaging has been shown to be strongly associated with development of knee osteoarthritis. However, very little is known about meniscal position in the asymptomatic knee and its natural history. Hence our objective was to study meniscal body position and its change over 4 years in asymptomatic adults.


Cohort study using data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) involving four clinical sites in the United States (Baltimore, Maryland, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). We studied both knees from 118 subjects (mean age 55 years, 61% women, mean body mass index 24.4) from the OAI “non-exposed” reference cohort free of knee pain, radiographic knee osteoarthritis and risk factors for knee osteoarthritis at baseline. We assessed mid-coronal intermediate-weighted 3-Tesla magnetic resonance images from baseline and the 2- and 4-year follow-up visit. One observer measured tibia plateau, meniscal body width and meniscal body extrusion in both compartments. We calculated meniscal overlap distance on the tibial plateau, % coverage, and extrusion index compared to tibia width. Potential trends in position over the 4-year period were evaluated using a linear mixed-effects regression model.


The mean (SD) values at baseline for medial meniscal body extrusion and overlap distance were 1.64 mm (0.92) and 10.1 mm (3.5), and coverage was 34.4% (11.9). The corresponding values for the lateral compartment were 0.63 mm (0.73), 9.8 mm (2.4), and 31.0% (7.7). Medial meniscus body extrusion index was greater in female knees (p = 0.03). There was slight increase in medial meniscal body extrusion over 4 years (0.040 mm/year [95% CI: 0.019-0.062]). The other variables were relatively stable.


In asymptomatic adults, the relative degree of meniscus body extrusion is more pronounced in female knees. Although a slight increase in extrusion over time was noted for the medial body, positions were relatively stable within subjects over time.

Knee; Meniscus; Magnetic resonance imaging; Osteoarthritis