Osteoarthritis Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis diagnosis is based on presence of risk factors, clinical symptoms and investigations. Here we will see what investigations are required and what can we expect.

Investigations that may be required include the following

  • X ray of the involved joint taken in two planes
  • Synovial fluid analysis
  • MRI of the joint

X rays show the following changes

  • Decrease in the space between bones. This indicates the loss of cartilage. Cartilage is not seen on x rays.
  • Increased calcification in the bone just below the joint space. Seen as more white bone.

  • Presence of osteophytes. These are seen as bone spurs.
  • Bony deformities can be seen. They may have caused the joint to develop osteoarthritis.

X rays of the knee are more helpful if taken in the standing position. Hip x rays can be taken standing or lying down.

MRI scans are usually not required routinely. They can show the status of the ligaments and cartilage which are not seen on x rays. They can also be helpful to diagnose early osteoarthritis.

Synovial fluid analysis is also helpful in diagnosis. Normal synovial fluid has the following parameters.

  • Colour is yellow
  • Clarity is clear
  • viscosity is high
  • White blood cells are less than 200 per microliter
  • Protein is between 1 to 3gram per deciliter
  • Volume is normally 0.5ml

In osteoarthritis synovial fluid is usually normal. Sometimes it may show the following changes.

  • Viscosity is reduced
  • volume of fluid is increased
  • cells may be increased to less than 2000 per microliter

Thus x ray is the main investigation for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis along with clinical features.

I hope you found the information on this page useful. If you have any query you can ask me at the contact me page.

This page was last updated on 1st December 2010.

More about Osteoarthritis...

OA Cause

OA Symptoms

OA Pathology

OA Treatment

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