OBJECTIVES: Knee joint distraction (KJD) has been associated with clinical and structural improvement and synovial fluid (SF) marker changes. The current objective was to analyze radiographic changes after KJD using an automatic AI-based measurement method, and relate these to clinical outcome and SF markers. METHODS: 20 knee osteoarthritis patients were treated with KJD in regular care. Radiographs and WOMAC were collected before and ∼1-year post-treatment. SF was aspirated before, during, and after treatment; biomarker levels were assessed by immunoassay. Radiographs were analyzed to obtain compartmental minimum and standardized joint space width (JSW), Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grades, compartmental joint space narrowing (JSN) scores, and osteophytosis and sclerosis scores. Results were analyzed for the most (MAC) and least affected compartment. Radiographic changes were analyzed using Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests for categorical and paired t-test for continuous variables. Linear regression was used to calculate associations between changes in JSW, WOMAC pain, and SF markers. RESULTS: 16 Patients could be evaluated. JSW, KL and JSN improved in around half of the patients, significant only for MAC JSW (p< 0.05). MAC JSW change was positively associated with WOMAC pain change (p< 0.04). Greater MCP-1 and lower TGFβ-1 increases were significantly associated with changes in MAC JSW (p< 0.05). MCP-1 changes were positively associated with WOMAC pain changes (p< 0.05). CONCLUSION: Automatic radiographic measurements show improved joint structure in most patients after KJD in regular care. MAC JSW increased significantly and was associated with SF biomarker level changes and even with improvements in pain as experienced by these patients.
artificial intelligence, joint distraction, osteoarthritis, radiography, repair, synovial markers