Subchondral Events and Treatment


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Subchondral Activity and Treatment, Columbia 2010
Presenter: Vladimir Bobic, Chester Knee Clinic, UK

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Subchondral Events and Treatment

  1. 1. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Grand Rounds University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA 20 October 2010OsteoChondral Unit and Subchondral Activity Vladimir Bobic, MD, FRCSEd Consultant Orthopaedic Knee Surgeon Chester Knee Clinic @ Nuffield Health, The Grosvenor Hospital Chester, United Kingdom
  2. 2. “The Terminology is a bit Confusing …”  Disclaimer: Arthrex (OATS inventor) and clinical advisor for TiGenix (CCI).  This is a non-EBM (orthopaedic surgeon’s) clinical overview of subchondral events, based on our clinical and MRI experience since 1996.  We have a problem at the outset: what are we actually talking about? How do we treat a wide range of chondral and subchondral problems which are still poorly defined and understood?  Bone Bruise (BB): a transient traumatic event = a series of trabecular microfractures. No surgical treatment required.  Bone Marrow Oedema (BME): MRI evidence of increased subchondral metabolic activity. Remodeling or reparative process, or a failure of subchondral remodeling or repair = a degenerative process? Initially a reparative process, if persistent – a degenerative process (often associated with initial formation of subchondral cysts, which are a consequence of failed focal repair). No surgical treatment required, but …  Transient Osteoporosis (TOP): no history of trauma, the knee pain is spontaneous and disabling, exacerbated on weight-bearing. Usually gets better over many months, back to normal MRI and clinically. When multiple joints are involved (in approx. 40% of patients) the condition is referred to as Transient Regional Migratory Osteoporosis (TRMO). No surgical treatment required. CKC UK
  3. 3. “The Terminology is a bit Confusing …”  Spontaneous Osteonecrosis (SONK): is the term used to describe a subchondral insufficiency fracture that causes osteonecrosis. MRI appearance: a thin linear hypointense subchondral focus on T1W and T2W that blends in with overlying cortex and is typically surrounded by diffuse BME. With or without subchondral fractures/deformity.  Avascular Necrosis (AVN): an osteonecrotic lesion, low signal rim on T1W and double line sign on T2W, with or without BME. The necrotic focus often extends some distance away from the articular margin and may contain fat, blood, fluid, fibrous tissue. With or without subchondral fractures/deformity.  Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD): semidetached osteochondral fragment (essentially a non-union) with fluid layer at osseous interface and seemingly intact articulating surface. A traumatic or metabolic event, or both?  Secondary Osteoarthrosis (not –itis): if localized, this is perhaps the end result of more extensive progressive failure of subchondral remodeling. Increased but unsuccessful subchondral activity (BME + multiple cysts) seems to be a primary event, with secondary loss of articulating surface, which fails gradually as it is not supported by normal elastic trabecular bone. May go as far back as injury-induced BB, with or without visible initial chondral damage. CKC UK
  4. 4. The overall volume andthe depth of subchondralinjury seem to be veryimportant for theoutcome of subchondralrepair and consequentremodelling.Proposed MRI classification ofbone barrow oedema (BME)following articular cartilagerepair Source: Brittberg, Winalski, JBJS A Supp 2003
  5. 5. ConclusionHigher grades of articularcartilage defects areassociated with higherprevalence and greaterdepth and cross-sectionalarea of subchondral bonemarrow oedema. CKC UK
  6. 6. Conclusion:A majority ofacutely ACL injuredknees (92%) had acortical depressionfracture, which wasassociated with largerBML volumes.This indicatesstrong compressiveforces to thearticular cartilageat the time ofinjury, which mayconstitute anadditional risk factorfor later knee OAdevelopment. CKC UK
  7. 7. ACL injury + extensive BB 7 months later CKC MRI 110206 CKC MRI 190906 CKC MRI 110206
  8. 8. Bone Bruise HistologyThe most interesting information on bone bruising to date has come from Johnson et al. Biopsied bonebruises in 10 patients undergoing ACL reconstruction consistently showed variable degrees ofarticular cartilage and subchondral bone changes.Histologic examination revealed degeneration of chondrocytes, osteocytenecrosis, and empty lacunae, suggesting that the MRI-detectable bonebruise represented substantial damage to normal articular cartilagehomeostasis. Biopsy specimen of bruised area: Higher magnification of the the articular surface is intact, but chondrocytes and matrix in the there is marked pallor of the superficial zone of the image on the superficial zone, indicating loss of left, showing marked degeneration matrix proteoglycans. (toluidine of chondrocytes. (toluidine blue) blue) Johnson D, et al. AJSM 26(3)1998 CKC UK
  9. 9. “Chronic” BME and Cartilage Delamination CKC UK
  10. 10. BB & BME: what is the difference?  A Bone Bruise is a post-traumatic event (series of trabecular microfractures) which usually disappears within 3 to 6 months (ACL injury, patella dislocation, etc.).  What happens to articular cartilage initially and months later?  How do we call symptomatic subchondral changes, which are still present and visible after 6 or 12 months or longer (after ACL injury, cartilage repair)?  A Bone Bruise appears to be an acute traumatic event while Bone Marrow Oedema signal seems to be a chronic one.  Is BME a remodelling process?  How does this correlate to patient’s symptoms?
  11. 11. BME Classification:   Traumatic bone oedema is thought to relate to internaltrabecular microtrauma with secondary capillaryhaemmorrhage. The pattern of bone edema described as bonebruising is dictated by mechanism, being globular followingimpaction, focal following distraction and linear following shearinjuries.   Tumorigenic oedema is thought to reflect tumor induced bonedestruction and disorganisation.   Vasogenic or hyperemic oedema is thought to reflectincreased fluid delivery to marrow spaces as a result of precapillarydilatation induced by inflammatory mediators as occurs in boneinfection.   Congestive marrow oedema is thought to reflect impaired exitof fluid from the marrow capillary bed as a result of capillaryvenous thrombosis or cellular swelling and packing. This form isidentified following avascular necrosis and possibly transientosteoporosis. Pain occurs secondary to disruption or irritation ofsensory nerves within marrow neurovascular bundles. Dr Stephen Eustace, Director Of Radiology, National Orthopedic Hospital, Cappagh, Dublin, Ireland
  12. 12. No Edema in Bone Marrow Edema!   The correlation of bone marrow lesions with pain in knee OA has beenconvincingly established. Here, another compelling association is establishedbetween bone marrow (edema) lesions and risk for progression of knee OA.What remains to be established is the cause-and-effect relationship betweenthe various variables.   It is interesting that, histologically, the lesions that appear asbone marrow edema on MRI contain very little edema at all. Rather,they demonstrate fibrosis, osteonecrosis, and extensive bonyREMODELLING and are likely the result of contusions and focalmicrofractures.   Also, it is not clear, whether an initial injury to articular cartilageleads to mechanical malalignment and subsequent subchondralbone destruction or rather subchondral bone damage leads tomechanical malalignment and subsequent articular cartilagedestruction.Does bone marrow edema predict progression of knee arthritis?A summary of Felson’s 2001 and 2003 AIM articles written by Jon Gilles, M.D., The John Hopkins Arthritis Center, 2003.
  13. 13. The Role of Subchondral Bone (1986)Radin et al. focused on subchondral role as an effective shock absorber. Theyfound shear stress in the articular cartilage always occurring whenever there isa discontinuity or substantial gradient in stiffness of the subchondral plate. Informer studies finite element analysis showed increasing stress in the cartilagesubsequent to subchondral plate stiffening. The fact that these changes occurredwithout any evidence of metabolic or inflammatory changes implied that thelatter follow the mechanical changes, first in the bone and than in the cartilage!December 1986. CKC UK
  14. 14. This junction is often ignored, but it is of great importance … formaintaining a healthy and strong interface between cartilage and bone CKC UK
  15. 15. Articular cartilage + Subchondral plate + Trabecualar bone are biologically and functionally inseparable OsteoChondral unit which absorbs and distributes loads across the joint.We can not think and act in monolayer terms. Add better art cart + SCB image + Carl’s slide here CKC UK
  16. 16. “Normal” Bone Marrow Oedema 6/12 after MFC ACI MFC ACI, 6/12: “In the medial compartment, the ACI graft has been placed over the central weight-bearing portion of the medial femoral condyle. Small cartilage flap at the interface peripherally in keeping with minor delamination but otherwise the graft appears good with no cartilage overgrowth or major defects. The inhomogeneity of the implant cartilage and mild marrow oedema-like signal beneath the graft are expected normal findings 6 months after the procedure.” CKC MRI 260906 Unedited MRI report David Ritchie, Glasgow, UK
  17. 17. Subchondral Activity Following ACI Surgery25% PMF ACI defect 12/12, with increased BME CKC Chester UK
  18. 18. Subchondral Activity Following ACI Surgery Satisfactory MFC ACI but new MTC lesion
  19. 19. Subchondral Activity Following ACI SurgeryProgressive subchondral activityand late failure (graft delamination) CKC Chester UK2 years after MFC ACI with PD PD fat sat
  20. 20. Subchondral Cysts Following ACI Surgery CKC UK
  21. 21. Subchondral Cysts Following ACI SurgeryACI MRI FU: 3/12: Bone marrow edema, 12/12: Subcortical cyst
  22. 22. Subchondral Cyst Formation Following ACI Surgery Subchondral cysts are bad news as they represent a terminal failure (trabecular necrosis and collapse) of local subchondral remodeling.
  23. 23. BME and Insufficiency FractureRecent localised incomplete subarticular fracture of the outer aspect of the MFC(15 x 5 x 3 mm) with slight depression of the overlying articular cortex andprominent surrounding marrow and soft tissue oedema but no obviousdisruption of the overlying articular cartilage or unstable osteochondralfragment. CKC UK
  24. 24. Insufficiency Fracture and SONK Our histopathological findings suggest that the primary event leading to spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee is a subchondral insufficiency fracture and that the localized osteonecrosis seen in association with this disease is the result of a fracture.CKC UK
  25. 25. SONK (Spontaneous Osteonecrosis) CKC UK CKC UK
  26. 26. Spontaneous Osteonecrosis (SONK) and Beyond CKC UK
  27. 27. Spontaneous Osteonecrosis of Both Femoral CondylesShifting Bone Marrow Oedema is a self-contained disorder involving both femoral condyles.On MRI it exhibits vast marrow oedema and is most likely an event on the SONK timeline.
  28. 28. Transient Regional Migratory Osteoporosis: and 2nd MRI hereShifting Bone Marrow Oedema is a self-contained disorder involving both femoral condyles.On MRI it exhibits vast marrow oedema and is most likely an event on the SONK timeline.
  29. 29. Spontaneous Osteonecrosis (SONK)  Ahlback et al first described spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee as a distinct clinical entity in 1968.  Osteonecrosis of the knee has also been described as a postsurgical complication following arthroscopic meniscectomy (Muscolo et al., Prues-Latour et al.) and following radiofrequency- assisted arthroscopic treatments, mainly in 50+ age groups.  The pathophysiology of osteonecrosis following these arthroscopic procedures is not fully understood (vascular isufficiency, trabecular microfractures?), or, more likely, a consequence of pre- arthrosopy osteopoenia and altered focal biomechanics (bone density should be looked into).
  30. 30. SONK HistologyIn the early stages of thecondition a subchondralfracture was noted in theabsence of any features ofosteonecrosis, whereas inadvanced stages,osteonecrotic lesions wereconfined to the area distal tothe site of the fracture whichshowed impaired healing. Insuch cases, formation ofcartilage and fibrous tissue,occurred indicating delayedor non-union.These findings strongly suggestthat the histopathology at eachstage of spontaneousosteonecrosis is characterisedby different types of repairreaction for subchondralfractures.
  31. 31. Lecouvet FE, et al.: CKC UK
  32. 32. “ If progressive collapseaccompanied by severesymptoms occurs, hightibial osteotomy,unicompartmentalreplacement, and totalknee replacement aretherapeuticalternatives.”Is there anything else,less severe, that can bedone?
  33. 33. JBJS B June 2006
  34. 34. Red Bone Marrow  Red marrow has significant haematopoietic stem cell potential and still persists in adults in certain areas such as the iliac crests.  The anterolateral trochlea (the usual OATS donor site) is often spared even in advanced OA and seems to contain reasonably good bone marrow, which can be aspirated through the donor site.  Pluripotent haematopoietic stem cells can differentiate into any and all of the cells of circulating blood and the immune system.  MRI studies have indicated that the conversion of red to fatty marrow occurs prematurely in some patients with avascular necrosis.  Osteonecrosis is associated with a decrease in progenitor cells in the proximal femur. Bone marrow also contains osteogenic progenitors, with a potential for effective bone regeneration.  It seems sensible to use core decompression but also to deliver better “biologic fuel” with pluripotent cells to the affected area. CKC UK
  35. 35. SONK, ON and SOA An alternative approach to the treatment of femoral and tibial Osteonecrosis, Chronic SONK and Secondary OA:  The knee is often not too bad or it is too early for a partial or a full knee replacement.  Classic Microfracture and Core Decompression are probably not deep enough.  Looking at most MRIs it seems that we need to reach at least 15 to 20 mm deep into subchondral bone, which is where any cylindrical osteochondral harvesters are very handy.  Effectively, this is a combination of OAT and deep core (subchondral) decompression, with a hand driven K-wire, through the bottom of the recipient socket, with  a mixture of autologous blood + bone marrow injected into the recipient socket,  and capped with 10 mm OATS plug, which was soaked in the same mixture of bone marrow and blood.  This “integrated” subchondral repair concept makes sense, it gives most people quick and durable pain relief and better knee function, but it is based on huge assumptions. CKC UK
  36. 36. SONK: sudden onset,severe knee painMRI: “In the outer weight-bearing portion of the medialfemoral condyle, there is anosteochondral lesion (22mm ant-post x 10mm med-lat x 2mmdeep), with fluid at the interfacewith parent bone, mild reactivemarrow oedema and a corticalbreak peripherally in keepingwith instability. Degenerativechanges in the medialcompartment with spontaneousosteonecrosis of the medialfemoral condyle (SONK) andunstable fragment.”David Ritchie, GlasgowCKC MRI 060506
  37. 37. FU MRI: “In the medialcompartment, the graft over thecentral weight-bearing portion ofthe medial femoral condyle hasincorporated with adjacentbone and the overlyingarticular cartilage is flushwith adjacent nativecartilage. A small focus ofmarrow oedema is noted directlybeneath the graft but overallthere has been a reduction inmarrow oedema around thegraft. A small trace ofsubcortical fluid in the peripheralportion of the medial femoralcondyle is similar to the pre-operative scan - presumably notincluded in the repair.”David Ritchie, GlasgowCKC MRI 030307
  38. 38. SONK Before and After Subchondral Decompression  15/12/08: subarticular insufficiency fracture and slight flattening of the MFC and prominent subarticular marrow oedema more marked on the femoral side. Since 04/04/08, significant deterioration in the medial compartment with SONK- like process, progressive degenerative changes …  11/09/09: Comparison is made with the previous scan 15/12/2008. In the medial compartment, following the subchondral decompression, there is now evidence of articular irregularity, deficiency and thinning of articular cartilage, slight increase in the subarticular marrow oedema and early subarticular cyst formation in the outer aspect of the MFC …
  39. 39. ABM: An Essential Ingredient for Octeochondral Repair?   Conclusions: Delivery of bone marrow concentrate can result in healing of acute full-thickness cartilage defects that is superior to that after microfracture alone in an equine model.   If this is the case, looking at osteochondral defects, is this combination working better because microfracture (multiple perforations and tunnelling) of subchondral bone is making it less stiff but also allows “biologic fuel” (bone marrow, blood and who knows what else) to reach deeper areas, re- establish nutrition and facilitate local osteochondral repair? JBJS A August 2010
  40. 40. Summary:  VB to DR email 9 May 2006:  Subject: SONK and all that jazz (re confusing MRI appearance of different subchondral events):  VB: “ There is something there and it seems it’s all connected. We are probably looking at different stages of the same thing:  It seems that subchondral repair and remodelling are a common denominator, some of which is successful (traumatic bone bruising, transient osteoporosis, SONK), partially successful (persisting bone marrow oedema) or not at all (progressive chronic bone marrow oedema, subchondral cysts, AVN, osteonecrosis, and in the end secondary osteoarthrosis). I don’t know, for some people most of this is probably at various places on the same timeline, but I am not sure if that makes sense.”  DR: “The terminology is a bit confusing … “  I would like to thank Dr David Ritchie and Dr Carl Winalski for their unreserved help and patience over many years.
  41. 41. Obviously, subchondral events are giving us headaches …… but we must do a lot more work to get to the bottom of this problem. Thank you.
  42. 42. Transient Osteoporosis  The aetiology of TO and TRMO remains unclear:  One of the likely explanations for the pathogenesis of TO is perhaps that proposed by Frost14 and others.15,16 He stated that under noxious tissue stimuli, the ordinary biological processes, including blood flow, cell metabolism and turnover and also tissue modelling and remodelling, might be greatly accelerated, called the Regional Acceleratory Phenomenon (RAP). In his opinion a prolonged or exaggerated RAP in which a large number of bone turnover foci are activated, is the cause of TO. It has been hypothesized that symptoms may be related to bone marrow edema demonstrated at MRI and to a transitory regional arterial hyperflow observed at the early scintigraphic analysis.17 Bone tissue micro damage is the most frequent noxious stimulus that provokes RAP and bone tissue micro fracture is the main consequence.  Several elements support this hypothesis. The repeatedly observed histological findings in patients with TO showing mild inflammatory changes and osteoporosis, associated with an elevated bone turnover with increased bone resorption and reactive bone formation18,19,20 are a good description of ongoing TRMO. CKC UK
  43. 43. Transient Osteoporosis (TO and TRMO)  Transient Osteoporosis (TO) is a rare self-limited syndrome characterized by sudden onset of joint pain, followed by focal osteopenia after few weeks, with spontaneous recovery. This was first described by Revault, et al., as a distinct clinical syndrome in French literature and was thought to be due to neurotropic changes, possibly secondary to minor trauma.  The first report of this disorder in the English literature was by Curtis and Kincaid in 1959.  When multiple joints are involved (which is the case in 40% of patients with this condition) the condition is referred to as Transient Regional Migratory Osteoporosis (TRMO).  Regional migratory osteoporosis (RMO), first described by Duncan et al. is a disorder manifested by arthralgia migrating to other joints or within the same joint  In most cases, plain radiographs and bone densitometry will reveal localized demineralization in the juxtarticular bone within 3–6 weeks after the onset of the symptoms, whereas increased uptake of radionuclide is demonstrated by bone scintigraphy. The pattern of symptoms migration has been reported as typically sequential, proximal to distal with a migratory interval of up to 9 months CKC UK
  44. 44. Transient Osteoporosis (TO and TRMO)  Successful pamidronate treatment of severe and refractory regional migratory osteoporosis  Schapira D, Gutierrez G, Mor M, Nahir AM. J Clin Rheumatol. 2001 Jun;7(3):188-90. The B. Shine Department of Rheumatology, Rambam Medical Center and Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel  Abstract: We report the case of a middle-aged patient with repeated attacks of regional migratory osteoporosis of the lower limbs, manifesting as severe pain and swelling of both joint and periarticular areas, and marked physical disability during a period of 2 1/2 years. After the therapeutic failure of conservative therapy (physical therapy, rehabilitation therapy, analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)) and after the correct diagnosis was reached, pamidronate treatment was instituted. The results were a rapid, complete, and long-lasting remission of the symptoms and the renewal of the patients previous activities. Intravenous biphosphates are proposed as a safe and promising therapy for regional migratory osteoporosis. To our knowledge, this is the first report of pamidronate treatment for this condition. CKC UK
  45. 45. Lateral Femoral Trochlea:a source of good cancellous bone and bone marrow, even in advanced OA? MFC AVN CKC UK
  46. 46. Subchondral MR Imaging Source: Dr Carl Winalski, Cleveland, USA
  47. 47. Subchondral Marrow Signal Source: Dr Carl Winalski, Cleveland, USA
  48. 48. Bone Marrow Oedema Can Cause Pain in OA  Cartilage degeneration, although fundamental to the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis, is not the site of origin of pain, the predominant symptom of osteoarthritis. Peripheral nerves generally follow the path of blood vessels, and cartilage contains no nerves or blood vessels.  Felson et al. describe oedema in the subarticular bone marrow adjacent to the knee, detected by T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in patients with painful osteoarthritis of that joint.  Oedema of the bone marrow has also been demonstrated in patients with traumatic bone injuries, including "bone bruises" and other forms of "overuse“  The pathologic process in the subarticular marrow of patients with osteoarthritis is probably an analogous phenomenon.  Thinning and erosion of the cartilage in osteoarthritis decrease the protection of the underlying bone afforded by the articular cartilage, which loses its capacity to absorb impact stresses and minimize friction during joint motion. The increase in physical stresses transmitted to the subchondral bone results in cortical thickening; the increased density of the bone further decreases the dampening of physical stresses, especially impact stresses, which are thus transmitted more fully to the underlying trabecular bone and bone marrow.  Oedema of the bone marrow seen on MRI reflects an inflammatory response to these traumatic forces. Afferent nociceptive nerve fibers containing the neurotransmitter substance P are found in periarticular tissues, including the periosteum and subchondral bone, of patients with osteoarthritis
  49. 49. Bone Marrow Oedema Can Cause Pain in OA  The development of venous hypertension and bone marrow oedema may also be related to the development of cysts in the subchondral bone in osteoarthritis (next slide).  Oedematous changes in the bone marrow early in the evolution of avascular necrosis of the femoral head have been reported (next slide)  In view of the observation that bone marrow oedema is found in most patients with painful osteoarthritis of the knee, as well as in other syndromes associated with juxta-articular pain, such as bone bruises and osteonecrosis, we can conclude that oedematous changes in the subcortical bone marrow are one of the many sources of knee pain.  Radin et al. focused on its role as an effective shock absorber. He found shear stress in the articular cartilage always occuring whenever there is a discontinuity or substantial gradient in stiffness of the subchondral plate. In former studies finite element analysis showed increasing stress in the cartilage subsequent to subchondral plate stiffening. The fact, that these changes occurred without any evidence of metabolic or inflammatory changes implied that the latter follow the mechanical changes, first in the bone and than in the cartilage. Radin EL, Rose RM : Role of Subchondral Bone in the Initiation and Progression of Cartilage damage. Clin. Orthop. 213: 34-40, 1986)
  50. 50. Failed MFC OATS repair after 4 years: CKC GNH UK CKC GNH UK the graft survived and it looks great but …