Natural course of intra-articular shifting bone marrow edema syndrome of the knee

Aigner, Nicolas; Meizer, Roland; Petje, Gerd; Meizer, Elisabeth; Abdelkafy, Ashraf; Landsiedl, Franz
January 2008
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders;2008, Vol. 9, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Background: Intra-articular shift (migration) of bone marrow edema syndrome (BMES) is a very rare disease. Only a few cases have been reported thus far. The condition may cause the clinician to suspect an aggressive disease. Methods: We reviewed eight patients (four women and four men) with unilateral BMES located in the knee. The patients were aged 39 to 56 years (mean, 49.2 years). In all patients, bone marrow edema (BME) initially observed on magnetic resonance imaging (MR imaging) shifted within the same joint, i.e. from the medial to the lateral femoral condyle or the adjacent bone. Seven patients were given conservative therapy, including limited weight-bearing, for a period of three weeks after the initial detection of BMES, whereas one patient underwent surgical core decompression twice. Results: MR imaging showed complete restitution in 6 cases and a small residual edema in one case. A final control MR could not be obtained for one patient, who had no pain. A further patient had an avascular necrosis of the contralateral hip after 16 months. Improvement on MR imaging was correlated with the clinical outcome in all cases. All patients became asymptomatic after a mean period of 9 months (6-11). Interpretation: Intra-articular shifting BMES is a very rare condition. As the disease is self-limiting, conservative therapy may be recommended.


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