Background: Patellofemoral pain (PFP) is a common knee condition and possible precursor of knee osteoarthritis (OA). Inflammation, leading to an increased perfusion, or increased volume of the infrapatellar fat pad (IPFP) may induce knee pain. The aim of the study was to compare quantitative dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) parameters, as imaging biomarkers of inflammation, and volume of the IPFP between patients with PFP and controls and between patients with and without IPFP edema or joint effusion. Methods: Patients with PFP and healthy controls were included and underwent non-fat suppressed 3D fast-spoiled gradient-echo (FSPGR) and DCE-MRI. Image registration was applied to correct for motion. The IPFP was delineated on FSPGR using Horos software. Volume was calculated and quantitative perfusion parameters were extracted by fitting extended Tofts' pharmacokinetic model. Differences in volume and DCE-MRI parameters between patients and controls were tested by linear regression analyses. IPFP edema and effusion were analyzed identically. Results: Forty-three controls and 35 PFP patients were included. Mean IPFP volume was 26.04 (4.18) mL in control subjects and 27.52 (5.37) mL in patients. Median Ktrans was 0.017 (0.016) min-1 in control subjects and 0.016 (0.020) min-1 in patients. None of the differences in volume and perfusion parameters were statistically significant. Knees with effusion showed a higher perfusion of the IPFP compared to knees without effusion in patients only. Conclusions: The IPFP has been implicated as source of knee pain, but higher DCE-MR blood perfusion, an imaging biomarker of inflammation, and larger volume are not associated with PFP. Patient's knees with effusion showed a higher perfusion, pointing towards inflammation.

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Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery
Department of Radiology