MRI vs. Arthroscopy for Meniscal and ACL Tears?

A common problem an attorney has is how to be certain their client is receiving proper medical care. The attorney can collaborate with the client to be sure that the proper diagnostic steps are being taken. This not only helps further a client’s case, but it also helps the client return to function. It is often the case that a better diagnosis can be obtained depending on what type of films are taken. A current debate is whether the MRI or arthroscophy is preferable in diagnosing a knee injury. Both have shown good diagnostic performance in detecting lesions of the menisci and cruciate ligaments. Nonetheless, arthroscopy has remained the “gold standard”.

The British Medical Bulletin recently published an article examining this question. As might be expected, the answer was, “well, it depends”. The results of the study were that MRI was deemed “highly accurate ” in diagnosing meniscal and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. Because its use avoids the risk of surgery, it is “the most appropriate screening tool” before arthroscophy is performed. The results differed, however, depending on whether the medial and lateral meniscus and ACL were being examined.

British Medical Bulletin 2007 84(1):5-23.