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Computer simulation could be used to make patient-specific osteoarthritis prognoses

Current imaging methods such as MRI and X-ray provide information about cartilage thickness and composition, but give no quantitative estimate of patient-specific risk of osteoarthritis.

Current imaging methods such as MRI and X-ray provide information about cartilage thickness and composition, but give no quantitative estimate of patient-specific risk of osteoarthritis.

A new computer simulation study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland appears to confirm that the impact of walking causes local degeneration of knee cartilage.

‘The method we have developed is based on stresses experienced by the knee joint during walking, simulated on a computer. Our idea was that walking-induced cumulative stresses that exceed a certain threshold will cause local degeneration in the articular cartilage of the knee,’ says researcher Mika Mononen.

The progression of osteoarthritis obtained by computer modelling was validated against four-year follow-up data from X-ray measurements, in which the thickness of the articular cartilage in the knee was evaluated. Two patient groups were established: normal weight and overweight.

In the normal weight group, the thickness of healthy cartilage did not change over the four-year follow-up period, but significant degeneration was observed in the overweight group.

In future, it could provide a new tool for making patient-specific prognoses on the progression of osteoarthritis.

The main risk factors are advanced age and overweight-induced significant stresses on the knee joint.

Reference

Mononen ME et al (2016) A novel method to simulate the progression of collagen degeneration of cartilage in the knee: data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Scientific Reports.

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