Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 472, Issue 7, pp 2177–2184

Does Intraarticular Inflammation Predict Biomechanical Cartilage Properties?

  • Wenzel Waldstein
  • Giorgio Perino
  • Shari T. Jawetz
  • Susannah L. Gilbert
  • Friedrich Boettner
Clinical Research



Intact cartilage in the lateral compartment is an important requirement for medial unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA). Progression of cartilage degeneration in the lateral compartment is a common failure mode of medial UKA. Little is known about factors that influence the mechanical properties of lateral compartment cartilage.


The purposes of this study were to answer the following questions: (1) Does the synovial fluid white blood cell count predict the biomechanical properties of macroscopically intact cartilage of the distal lateral femur? (2) Is there a correlation between MRI grading of synovitis and the biomechanical properties of macroscopically intact cartilage? (3) Is there a correlation between the histopathologic assessment of the synovium and the biomechanical properties of macroscopically intact cartilage?


The study included 84 patients (100 knees) undergoing primary TKA for varus osteoarthritis between May 2010 and January 2012. All patients underwent preoperative MRI to assess the degree of synovitis. During surgery, the cartilage of the distal lateral femur was assessed macroscopically using the Outerbridge grading scale. In knees with an Outerbridge grade of 0 or 1, osteochondral plugs were harvested from the distal lateral femur for biomechanical and histologic assessment. The synovial fluid was collected to determine the white blood cell count. Synovial tissue was taken for histologic evaluation of the degree of synovitis.


The mean aggregate modulus and the mean dynamic modulus were significantly greater in knees with 150 or less white blood cells/mL synovial fluid compared with knees with greater than 150 white blood cells/mL synovial fluid. There was no correlation among MRI synovitis grades, histopathologic synovitis grades, and biomechanical cartilage properties.


The study suggests that lateral compartment cartilage in patients with elevated synovial fluid white blood cell counts has a reduced ability to withstand compressive loads.

Level of Evidence

Level III, diagnostic study. See the Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.


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Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenzel Waldstein
    • 1
  • Giorgio Perino
    • 2
  • Shari T. Jawetz
    • 3
  • Susannah L. Gilbert
    • 4
  • Friedrich Boettner
    • 1
  1. 1.Adult Reconstruction & Joint Replacement DivisionHospital for Special SurgeryNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pathology and Laboratory MedicineHospital for Special SurgeryNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Division of Magnetic Resonance ImagingHospital for Special SurgeryNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiomechanicsHospital for Special SurgeryNew YorkUSA

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