Bone marrow lesions (BMLs) on MRI are typically subchondral in location, however, a proportion occur at knee ligament attachments and also include a cyst-like component. Our aim was to determine whether the volume of BML subtypes and synovial tissue volume (STV) was associated with symptoms in symptomatic knee OA.
Images were acquired in a sub-sample who had taken part in a randomised trial of vitamin D therapy in knee OA (UK-VIDEO). Contrast-enhanced (CE) MRI was performed annually. In those who had ≥1 follow-up and a baseline scan (N = 50), STV and BML volume was assessed. BMLs were categorised by location and by the presence/absence of a cyst-like component. WOMAC was assessed annually. We used fixed-effect panel-regression modelling to examine the association between volume and symptoms.
There was no association between knee pain and total subchondral BML volume (b = 0.3 WOMAC units, 95% CI -0.3 to 1.0) or total ligament-based BML volume (b = 1.9, 95% CI -1.6 to 5.3). The volume of subchondral BMLs with a cyst-like component was not associated with pain (b = 0.8, 95% CI -0.5 to 2.1) however, the volume of the cyst-like component itself was associated with pain (b = 51.8, 95% CI 14.2 to 89.3). STV was associated with pain (b = 2.2, 95% CI 0.6 to 3.7).
The volume of the cyst-like component from subchondral BMLs with a cyst-like component was associated with knee pain. BML location, however, did not influence symptoms. STV was also associated with knee symptoms.