Rheumatology International

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 679–687 | Cite as

Characteristics of individual thigh muscles including cross-sectional area and adipose tissue content measured by magnetic resonance imaging in knee osteoarthritis: a cross-sectional study

  • Koun YamauchiEmail author
  • Chisato Kato
  • Takayuki Kato
Observational Research


This study aimed to identify the parameters related to the area and adipose tissue content of thigh muscles that are associated with radiographic knee osteoarthritis grade. Fifty patients (mean age ± standard deviation, 73.0 ± 4.5 years) were divided into early osteoarthritis (n = 23) and established osteoarthritis (n = 27) groups based on Kellgren–Lawrence classification. The femorotibial angle was measured from anteroposterior radiographs of the lower limbs. Individual thigh muscle and adipose tissue areas were analyzed using axial T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. After intergroup comparison, logistic regression analysis was performed to determine independent parameters associated with established osteoarthritis. Moreover, correlation coefficients were assessed between the left–right differences of osteoarthritis grade and parameters. Established osteoarthritis exhibited a significantly greater femorotibial angle and increased adipose tissue content in the subcutaneous, intermuscle, and intramuscle of the adductor, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, as well as a lower vastus medialis area, in comparison to early osteoarthritis. A greater femorotibial angle, increased intermuscular adipose tissue, and a lower vastus medialis area to knee extensor ratio were significantly independently associated with established osteoarthritis (odds ratio 3.2, 1.8, and 2.0, respectively). The left–right differences of femorotibial angle and vastus medialis area were significantly correlated with osteoarthritis grade, whereas adipose tissue content had no significant correlations with osteoarthritis grade. Greater femorotibial angle and lower vastus medialis area were related with higher osteoarthritis grade. Greater intermuscular adipose tissue content was associated with established osteoarthritis; however, in the left–right differences, adipose tissue content was not related with osteoarthritis grade.


Knee osteoarthritis Magnetic resonance imaging Thigh muscles Adipose tissue Vastus medialis Left–right differences 



We greatly appreciate Shigetoshi Suzuki, the staff of the radiology division for his assistance while conducting this study and the editors of American Journal Experts for correcting English language.

Author contributions

CK study conception and design. TK study conception and design.



Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Koun Y, Chisato K, and Takayuki K declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryAkita HospitalChiryuJapan

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