Arthritis – Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is diagnosed based upon medical history and clinical examination (Busija 2010).
Radiographic imaging can aid in the diagnosis of OA. It involves the identification of a variety of anatomic abnormalities such as joint space narrowing, bone spurs, and joint bone deformity (Murphy 2012). However, since many patients with joint abnormalities do not develop symptoms, a diagnosis of OA cannot be made solely upon the basis of positive radiographic images. Likewise, patients with symptoms of OA may not display radiographic evidence (Bijlsma 2011).
A newer method of imaging called delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI of cartilage (dGEMRIC) provides information about cartilage quality and may offer an improved means of diagnosing OA in the early stages (Siversson 2012). This method involves the intravenous injection of a negatively charged contrast agent, which then diffuses into articular cartilage over at least two hours. An increased concentration of contrast agent (in positively charged areas on the MRI scan) would be indicative of articular cartilage damage in that specific region (Taylor 2009).