Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Lund University report the development and validation of a computational modeling method to assess the progression of osteoarthritis in the knee joint using MRI. The study suggests significant degeneration of the knee joint among overweight people.

The study, published recently in Nature, involved patient-specific estimates of the progression of osteoarthritis obtained from computer modeling, validated against 4-year follow-up data from MRI scans evaluating the thickness of the articular cartilage in the knee.

“The method we have developed is based on stresses experienced by the knee joint during walking, and these were 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 Postdoctoral Researcher Mika Mononen from the University of Eastern Finland’s Department of Applied Physics, in a media release from the University of Eastern Finland.

Study participants were divided into two groups: the normal weight group and the overweight group.

Among those in the normal weight group, the thickness of healthy cartilage did not change over the 4-year follow-up. However, among those in the overweight group, significant degeneration of the knee joint was observed, per the release.

“The study shows that this new method, which is based on computer modeling, was able to predict similar changes in the articular cartilage of the knee as experimental follow-up data,” Mononen states in the release.

Future uses of the computational modeling method could be the ability to make patient-specific prognoses on the progression of osteoarthritis, as well as to assess the patient-specific effects of being overweight on the future health of the knee joint, per the release.

[Source(s): University of Eastern Finland, Science Daily]