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What Is Subchondral Sclerosis?

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Updated April 07, 2009

Question: What Is Subchondral Sclerosis?
Subchondral sclerosis is commonly seen on x-rays of osteoarthritic joints. What does it mean? What is subchondral sclerosis?
Answer: Subchondral bone is the layer of bone just below the cartilage. With osteoarthritis, there is increased blood flow and other changes that develop in the subchondral layer -- including subchondral sclerosis, subchondral cyst formation, and increased pressure within the bone -- all of which contribute to osteoarthritis pain.

Subchondral sclerosis is defined as increased bone density or thickening in the subchondral layer. This often occurs with progressive osteoarthritis and shows up on x-rays as abnormally white (dense) bone along the joint line.

Source:

Radiographic Assessment of Osteoarthritis. American Family Physician. Swagerty DL et al. July 15, 2001.
http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010715/279.html

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