BACKGROUND: Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has internationally been proven to reduce unnecessary knee arthroscopies and assist with surgical planning. This has the advantage of avoiding unnecessary surgery and the associated anaesthetic risk, as well as reducing costs. No data were found in the recently published literature assessing the accuracy of MRI interpretation of knee ligament injury in the public sector locally.
OBJECTIVES: This pilot study aimed to determine the accuracy of MRI in detecting non-osseous knee injury in a resource-limited tertiary-level academic hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, compared to the gold standard arthroscopy findings.
METHOD: This was an exploratory retrospective analysis of 39 patients who had MRI and arthroscopy at Steve Biko Academic Hospital (SBAH). True positive, true negative, false positive and false negative results were extrapolated from findings in both modalities and translated into sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) for each structure.
RESULTS: Negative predictive values were recorded as 97%, 81%, 90% and 100% (anterior cruciate ligament [ACL], medial meniscus [MM], lateral meniscus [LM] and posterior cruciate ligament [PCL], respectively), which were comparative to recently published international literature. The PPV results were lower than those previously evaluated at 55%, 58%, 55% and not applicable. The sensitivities and specificities of the ligaments were 83%, 58%, 83% and not applicable; and 87%, 81%, 70% and not applicable, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Magnetic resonance imaging was found to be sensitive and specific, with a high NPV noted in all structures evaluated. Negative results can therefore be used to avoid unnecessary surgery to the benefit of the patient and state. The study reiterates that high accuracy can be obtained from MRI on a 1.5-tesla non-dedicated scanner, with interpretation by generalist radiologists.