Amidst the array of advanced healthcare imaging techniques available today, clinicians can accurately diagnose tissue and joint deformities through non-invasive imaging. Yet, a perplexing question persists: why do certain individuals with specific joint deformities experience symptoms, while others do not?

The meniscus, a cartilaginous structure that cushions the knee joint between the femur and tibia, plays a crucial role. Some individuals are born with a congenital morphological variation known as a discoid lateral meniscus (DLM), characterized by thickening on the outer side of the knee. In this condition, the lateral meniscus takes on a circular shape instead of the typical crescent shape, making the cartilage more susceptible to tears and leading to symptoms such as knee pain and locking, often requiring surgery.

To unravel the factors distinguishing symptomatic DLM cases from asymptomatic ones, Dr. Kazuya Nishino and a multi-institutional research team from Osaka Metropolitan University’s Graduate School of Medicine examined 61 knees with symptomatic discoid lateral meniscus surgery and 35 asymptomatic knees with discoid lateral meniscus identified via MRI. Calculations of meniscus percentage in coronal and sagittal sections were conducted, along with measurements of the meniscus’s thinnest and thickest parts.

Results indicated that the meniscus coverage of the tibia in both coronal and sagittal planes was higher in the symptomatic group compared to the asymptomatic one. Additionally, meniscal height was greater in the symptomatic group. These findings suggest that preoperative imaging plays a crucial role in determining the extent of tissue resection needed for symptomatic DLM patients, aiding in surgical decision-making. Dr. Nishino emphasized the potential of utilizing these characteristics for medical treatment, with future investigations focusing on three-dimensional morphological changes before and after surgery.

While the study’s primary discovery lies in the morphological differences between symptomatic and asymptomatic DLMs, MRIs of symptomatic patients revealed additional indicators, such as meniscal tears or signs of instability, suggesting these morphological features could contribute to symptoms in DLM cases.

 

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