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Open Access Research article

Chondrocalcinosis is common in the absence of knee involvement

Abhishek Abhishek1*, Sally Doherty1, Rose Maciewicz2, Kenneth Muir3, Weiya Zhang1 and Michael Doherty1

Author Affiliations

1 Academic Rheumatology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK

2 Respiratory and Inflammation iMed, AstraZeneca, MöIndal, Sweden

3 Health Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick, Warwick CV4 7AL, UK

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:R205  doi:10.1186/ar4043

Published: 4 October 2012

Abstract

Introduction

We aimed to describe the distribution of radiographic chondrocalcinosis (CC) and to examine whether metacarpophalangeal joint (MCPJ) calcification and CC at other joints occurs in the absence of knee involvement.

Methods

This was a cross-sectional study embedded in the Genetics of Osteoarthritis and Lifestyle study (GOAL). All participants (n = 3,170) had radiographs of the knees, hands, and pelvis. These were scored for radiographic changes of osteoarthritis (OA), for CC at knees, hips, symphysis pubis, and wrists, and for MCPJ calcification. The prevalence of MCPJ calcification and CC overall, at each joint, and in the presence or absence of knee involvement, was calculated.

Results

The knee was the commonest site of CC, followed by wrists, hips, and symphysis pubis. CC was more likely to be bilateral at knees and wrists but unilateral at hips. MCPJ calcification was usually bilateral, and less common than CC at knees, hips, wrists, and symphysis pubis. Unlike that previously reported, CC commonly occurred without any knee involvement; 44.4% of wrist CC, 45.9% of hip CC, 45.5% of symphysis pubis CC, and 31.3% of MCPJ calcification occurred in patients without knee CC. Those with meniscal or hyaline articular cartilage CC had comparable ages (P = 0.21), and neither preferentially associated with fibrocartilage CC at distant joints.

Conclusions

CC visualized on a plain radiograph commonly occurs at other joints in the absence of radiographic knee CC. Therefore, knee radiographs alone are an insufficient screening test for CC. This has significant implications for clinical practice, for epidemiologic and genetic studies of CC, and for the definition of OA patients with coexistent crystal deposition.