What is the role of MRI in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA)?

Updated: Oct 12, 2020
  • Author: Carlos J Lozada, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can depict many of the same characteristics of osteoarthritis that plain radiography can, but it is not necessary in most patients with osteoarthritis, unless additional pathology amenable to surgical repair is suspected. Pathology that can be seen on MRI includes joint narrowing, subchondral osseous changes, and osteophytes. Unlike radiography, MRI can directly visualize articular cartilage and other joint tissues (eg, meniscus, tendon, muscle, or effusion).

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