Do imaging findings modify the effect of non-surgical treatment in patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis? A systematic literature review

Stine Clausen*, Joshua Heerey, Jan Hartvigsen, Joanne L. Kemp, Bodil Arnbak

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVES: To review the available evidence on diagnostic imaging findings in knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA) as treatment effect modifiers in non-surgical OA interventions. METHODS: MEDLINE, Embase and The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched from the earliest records published to 22 March 2022. Studies in knee and hip OA reporting subgroup analyses in randomised controlled trials with imaging findings as potential treatment effect modifiers were included. Studies were critically appraised using the Cochrane risk of bias tool and a subgroup analysis quality assessment. RESULTS: Of 10 014 titles and abstracts screened, eight studies met the inclusion criteria, six on knee OA and two on hip OA. The studies investigated effect modifiers in exercise therapy, intra-articular injections and unloading shoes. Imaging findings assessed as potential treatment effect modifiers were radiographic OA severity, hip effusion (ultrasound), bone marrow lesions and meniscal pathology (MRI). Two studies fulfilled the methodological quality criteria for assessing effect modification. One reported that radiographic knee OA severity modified the effect of unloading shoes on walking pain. Those with more severe radiographic knee OA had a greater response to shoe inserts. One reported no interaction between radiographic OA severity or joint effusion and the effect of intraarticular injections of corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid in hip OA, indicating no difference in response in people with greater hip joint effusion or radiographic OA severity compared with those with less severe joint disease. CONCLUSION: Overall, methodological limitations and very few studies do not permit conclusions on diagnostic imaging findings as effect modifiers in non-surgical interventions in knee and hip OA.Radiographic severity of knee OA potentially modifies the effect of unloading shoes. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42020181934.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere065373
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 16. Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • diagnostic radiology
  • hip
  • knee
  • rheumatology


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