Knee osteoarthritis – the most frequently diagnosed type of arthritis – is degenerative and commonly leads to disability in older men and women. As many as 40% of those over the age of 70 suffer from knee osteoarthritis, commonly diagnosed by hospital physicians, but unfortunately, the available interventions for this condition do not affect the underlying disease. Research into how to best address this condition is thus abundant. One such study on 223 patients has just revealed that zoledronic acid may not prevent the loss of cartilage that occurs in knee osteoarthritis and bone marrow lesions. The new data were published in JAMA.
To determine what impact infusing zoledronic acid had on the relevant patient group, the scientists administered either 5 mg of zoledronic acid in a 100 mL saline solution or a placebo saline solution to patients suffering from symptomatic knee osteoarthritis as well as subchondral bone marrow lesions that had been identified through MRI. The infusions were given intravenously one time over a 15-minute period.
Before the infusions, the scientists had evaluated the volume of the tibiofemoral cartilage using MRI. They re-evaluated this volume 24 months after the treatment to detect any volume change associated with the treatment. They also monitored knee pain through assessments at 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months following infusions.
The results showed that there was no significant difference in either volume change or pain in the patients who received the zoledronic acid and those who received placebo, suggesting that the zoledronic acid did not confer any significant benefit to these orthopedic patients. The authors of the study concluded that though there had previously been some promising data around the potential value of zoledronic acid for those with knee osteoarthritis, it does not appear that this substance affects knee osteoarthritis symptoms. Future research will help to clarify what role – if any – zoledronic acid may have in osteoarthritis.
Cai, G., Aitken, D., & Laslett, L. (2020). Effect of intravenous zoledronic acid on tibiofemoral cartilage volume amongst patients with knee osteoarthritis with bone marrow lesions: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 323(15), 1456-1466.