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A large infrapatellar fat pad protects against knee pain and lateral tibial cartilage volume loss


Teichtahl, AJ and Wulidasari, E and Brady, SR and Wang, Y and Wluka, AE and Ding, C and Giles, GG and Cicuttini, FM, A large infrapatellar fat pad protects against knee pain and lateral tibial cartilage volume loss, Arthritis Research & Therapy, 17, (1) Article 318. ISSN 1478-6354 (2015) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Teichtahl et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0831-y


Introduction: The infrapatellar fat pad (IPFP) is commonly resected during knee joint arthroplasty, but the ramifications of doing so are unclear. This longitudinal study determined whether the size of the IPFP (maximum cross-sectional area (CSA)) was associated with knee cartilage loss and the development of knee pain in adults without knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods: A total of 297 adults without American College of Rheumatology clinical criteria for a diagnosis of knee OA were recruited. Knee MRI was performed at baseline and an average of 2.3 years later. IPFP maximal CSA and tibial cartilage volume were measured from MRI. A large and small IPFP were defined by the median split, with a large IPFP defined by being in the highest 50 %. Body composition was performed at baseline using bio-impedance. Knee pain was assessed at follow-up using the Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC).

Results: A larger IPFP at baseline was associated with reduced knee pain at follow-up (OR 0.5, 95 % CI: 0.3 to 0.9, p = 0.02) and lateral tibial cartilage volume loss (β: −0.9 % (95 % CI: −1.6, −0.1 %) per annum, p = 0.03). The maximal CSA of the IPFP was predominantly located in the lateral (54.2 %), rather than the medial tibiofemoral compartment (1.7 %). Male gender (OR 12.0, 95 % CI: 6.5 to 22.0, p < 0.001) and fat free mass (OR 1.15, 95 % CI 1.04 to 1.28, p = 0.007) were both associated with a large IPFP.

Conclusion: A larger IPFP predicts reduced lateral tibial cartilage volume loss and development of knee pain and mechanistically might function as a local shock-absorber. The lack of association between measures of adiposity and the size of the IPFP might suggest that the IPFP size is not simply a marker of systemic obesity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:infrapatellar fat pad, knee, osteoarthritis, cartilage, pain
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Clinical sciences
Research Field:Rheumatology and arthritis
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Ding, C (Professor Chang-Hai Ding)
ID Code:104925
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:36
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2015-11-26
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:199 View Download Statistics

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