To develop a whole-joint, unidimensional, irreversible, and fine-grained MRI knee osteoarthritis (OA) severity score, based on cartilage, osteophytes and meniscus (OA-COM), and to predict progression across different severity states using OA-COM as outcome and clinical variables as predictors.
Population-based knee pain cohort aged 40-79 was assessed at baseline and 7-year follow-up. OA-COM score was defined as the sum of MRI scores for cartilage, osteophytes and menisci, measured at 6, 8 and 6 sites, total score 0-54. To anchor severity levels, we fit cross-sectional logistic models using OA-COM to predict Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grades in subsets at or one point below each grade. OA-COM threshold scores were selected on sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value. We developed longitudinal logistic models for OA-COM progression over each threshold over 7 years. Potential predictors included age, sex, BMI, malalignment, physical exam effusion, quadriceps weakness, and crepitus, selected on area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC).
Optimal OA-COM thresholds were 12, 18, 24 and 30, for KL grades 1 to 4. Significant predictors of progression (depending on threshold) included physical exam effusion, malalignment and female sex, with other selected predictors age, BMI and crepitus.
OA-COM (0-54 range) is a whole-joint, unidimensional, irreversible, and fine-grained MRI OA severity score reflecting cartilage, osteophytes and menisci. OA-COM scores 12, 18, 24 and 30 are equivalent to KL grades 1 to 4, while offering fine-grained differentiation of states between KL grades, and within pre-radiographic disease (KL = 0) or late-stage disease (KL = 4). In modeling, several clinical variables predicted progression across different states over 7 years.

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