Medial meniscus extrusion on knee MRI: Is extent associated with severity of degeneration or type of tear?

C. Rosalia Costa, William B. Morrison, John A. Carrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE. The meniscus is considered "extruded" when it extends beyond the tibial margin. We hypothesize that severe degeneration, large radial tears, complex tears, and tears involving the meniscal root would alter meniscal stability and cause more substantial extrusion. MATERIALS AND METHODS. The knee MRI database at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital was searched for reports describing meniscal extrusion; MR images were reviewed retrospectively. On mid coronal images, extrusion of the medial meniscus was quantified in millimeters. A separate, independent review of the meniscus evaluated degeneration severity and tear (type and extent). Radial tears were divided into those involving more (large) or less (small) than 50% of the meniscal width. Tears that involved the "root" at the tibial spine were recorded. Chi-square analysis compared these findings with extrusion extent, divided into minor (≤ 3 mm) and major (> 3 mm) extrusion. RESULTS. One hundred five knees were reviewed (12 men and 93 women; age range, 34-83 years; mean age, 56 years). Distribution of medial meniscus extrusion was 2 mm (n = 17), 3 mm (n = 17), 4 mm (n = 27), 5 mm (n = 14), 6 mm (n = 16), and 7-10 mm (n = 14). Mild, moderate, or marked degeneration was seen in 47%, 26%, and 27% with minor extrusion, respectively, and in 17%, 41%, and 42% with major extrusion, respectively (p = 0.003). Tears were seen in 59% (20/34) with minor extrusion versus 89% (63/71) with major extrusion (p = 0.001). Tears involved one third, two thirds, or all of the meniscus in 75%, 25%, or 0%, respectively, with minor extrusion and 46%, 40%, or 14% with major extrusion, respectively (p = 0.014). Longitudinal (nonradial) and horizontal tears were not associated with extent of extrusion (p = 1.0). Oblique tears were significantly associated with minor extrusion (minor, 26% [9/34]; major, 4% [3/71]; p = 0.003). Radial tears were seen in 9% (3/34) with minor extrusion versus 21% (15/71) with major extrusion (p = 0.20). All three radial tears with minor extrusion were small; conversely, 87% (13/15) of radial tears with major extrusion were large (p = 0.019). Complex tears were seen in 18% (6/34) with minor extrusion versus 59% (42/71) with major extrusion (p < 0.001). Tears involving the meniscal root were seen in 3% (1/34) with minor extrusion and 42% (30/71) with major extrusion (p < 0.001). CONCLUSION. Substantial medial meniscus extrusion (> 3 mm) is associated with severe meniscal degeneration, extensive tear, complex tear, large radial tear, and tear involving the meniscal root.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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