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BACKGROUND: We describe upper tibial radiating vascular marks on MRI scans. They are lost in early osteoarthritis (OA). METHODS: A literature search revealed no previous description of upper tibial MRI radial vascular marks. Fifty-six consecutive patients with anteroposterior knee X-rays and an axial PD_SPAIR MRI scan of the same knee within 1 year were studied. Their mean age was 53.1 years (range 22-85) with 27 males and 29 females. The medial and lateral compartments of each knee were scored for osteoarthritis using the Kellgren-Lawrence (K-L) classification. Marks on the MRI scans were counted by layer and quadrant position. RESULTS: Radial vascular marks were present in the first axial upper tibial subchondral slice, peaked between 6 and 10 mm depth and were absent by 16 mm depth. There was no association with age, left or right knee, BMI, or weight. There was more K-L graded OA medially and more vascular marks laterally. There was an inverse correlation between the number of marks and early grades of osteoarthritis medially (p < 0.001) and laterally (p < 0.002). CONCLUSION: We demonstrate previously undescribed subchondral vascular marks on axial MRI scans of the tibia and their inverse correlation with the presence and severity of early knee osteoarthritis. Our work offers a new insight into the possible vascular aetiology of osteoarthritis and potentially a means of earlier diagnosis and a therapeutic target.

Original publication




Journal article


J orthop surg res

Publication Date





Kellgren-Lawrence, MRI, Osteoarthritis, Subchondral, Tibia, Vascular, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Early Diagnosis, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Severity of Illness Index, Single-Blind Method, Tibia, Young Adult