RSNA: Weight loss markedly slows knee damage

CHICAGO—Carrying around the extra weight of obesity damages knee cartilage just as surely as it hurts one’s cardiovascular health. A new study confirms the suspicion that losing the weight can mean slowing osteoarthritis.

The study was presented Monday in a press conference at RSNA’s annual meeting.

Alexandra Gersing, MD, of UC-San Francisco, and colleagues looked at 506 overweight and obese patients in the NIH-sponsored Osteoarthritis Initiative.

Splitting the patients into three groups—those who shed more than 10 percent of their body weight, those who experienced more modest weight loss and a control group of patients who lost no weight—the researchers used MRI to quantify knee osteoarthritis.

They found that, over a four-year span, knee cartilage degenerated much more slowly in the group that lost more than 10 percent of their body weight.

Subjects with less than 10 percent weight loss showed no more benefit than those with no weight loss at all.

In the 10 percent-or-more group, the degeneration was especially slowed in the weight-bearing parts of the knee.

“Through T2 relaxation time measurements from MRI, we can see changes in cartilage quality at a very early stage, even before it breaks down,” Gersing said in remarks prepared prior to the press conference.

The researchers said they are planning an eight-year follow-up with subjects from the present study.

They also announced a separate study to investigate the role of diabetes-related obesity in cartilage degeneration.