Imaging of early-stage osteoarthritis: the needs and challenges for diagnosis and classification

Edwin H.G. Oei, Jos Runhaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In an effort to boost the development of new management strategies for OA, there is currently a shift in focus towards the diagnosis and treatment of early-stage OA. It is important to distinguish diagnosis from classification of early-stage OA. Diagnosis takes place in clinical practice, whereas classification is a process to stratify participants with OA in clinical research. For both purposes, there is an important opportunity for imaging, especially with MRI. The needs and challenges differ for early-stage OA diagnosis versus classification. Although it fulfils the need of high sensitivity and specificity for making a correct diagnosis, implementation of MRI in clinical practice is challenged by long acquisition times and high costs. For classification in clinical research, more advanced MRI protocols can be applied, such as quantitative, contrast-enhanced, or hybrid techniques, as well as advanced image analysis methods including 3D morphometric assessments of joint tissues and artificial intelligence approaches. It is necessary to follow a step-wise and structured approach that comprises, technical validation, biological validation, clinical validation, qualification, and cost-effectiveness, before new imaging biomarkers can be implemented in clinical practice or clinical research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2031-2036
Number of pages6
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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