Osteoarthritis (OA) is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with its unique ability to image and characterize soft tissue non-invasively, has proven valuable in assessing cartilage in OA. The development of new, fast imaging methods with high contrast show promise to improve the magnetic resonance (MR) evaluation of this disease. In addition to morphologic MRI methods, MRI contrast mechanisms under development may reveal detailed information about the physiology of cartilage. It is anticipated that these and other MRI techniques will play an increasingly important role in assessing the success or failure of therapies for OA. On December 5 and 6, 2002, OMERACT (Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials) and OARSI (Osteoarthritis Research Society International) held a workshop in Bethesda, MD aiming at providing a state-of-the-art review of imaging outcome measures for OA of the knee to help guide scientists and pharmaceutical companies in the use of MRI in multi-site studies of OA. Applications of MRI were initially reviewed by a multidisciplinary, international panel of expert scientists and physicians from academia, the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies. The findings of the panel were then presented to a wider group of participants for open discussion. The following report summarizes the results of these discussions with respect to novel MRI pulse sequences for evaluating articular cartilage of the knee in OA and notes any additional advances that have been made since.
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