The aim was to examine if structural factors could affect response to intra-articular steroid injections (IASI) in knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Persons with painful knee OA participated in an open-label trial of IASI where radiographic joint space narrowing (JSN) and Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grade, whole-organ magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scores (WORMS) and quantitative assessment of synovial tissue volume (STV) were assessed on baseline images. Participants completed the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) and a question about knee pain with a visual analogue scale for pain during nominated activity (VASNA), and Outcome Measures in Rheumatology (OMERACT)-Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) criteria were used to assess responder status within 2 weeks (short term) and 6 months (longer term). Regression models were used to examine predictors of short and longer term response to IASI.
Subjects (n = 207) attended and had IASI. Information on responder status was available on 199 participants. Of these, 188 subjects, mean age 63.2 years (standard deviation (SD) 10.3), 97 (51.6%) female, had x-rays and 120 had MRI scans available. Based on the OMERACT-OARSI criteria, 146 (73.4%) participants responded to therapy and 40 (20.1%) were longer term responders. A few factors were associated with a reduced KOOS-pain and VASNA response though none were associated with OMERACT-OARSI responder status in the short term. Higher MRI meniscal damage (odds ratio (OR) = 0.74; 95% CI 0.55 to 0.98), increasing KL maximal grade (OR = 0.43; 95% CI 0.23 to 0.82) and joint space narrowing (JSN) maximal score (OR = 0.60; 95% CI 0.36 to 0.99) were each associated with a lower odds of longer term responder status. Baseline synovitis was not associated with treatment response. The predicted probability of longer term response decreased from 38% to 12% as baseline maximal JSN increased from grade 0 to 3.
Compared with those who have mild structural damage, persons with more severe knee damage on either MRI or x-ray are less likely to respond to knee IASI.