Fifty-four postirradiation arthropathies were found among 536 patients with radiation-induced osteodysplasias. There were three main types of joint changes: degenerative arthrosis, inflammatory arthritis, and ankylosis. Degenerative arthropathy was the most common. Degenerative and necrotic changes occurred in the cartilage, joint capsule, and bones in the vicinity of the joint. A slowly progressive septic arthritis occurred in some patients, due to infection by bacteria of low virulence. This arthritis led ultimately to ankylosis or amputations. Like bones, joints must be considered to be radiosensitive and their resistance to various insults, especially bacterial infection, is lessened after radiation damage.
Copyright 1967 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated