Radiographs of eighteen patients who had had a diagnosis of metal-induced synovitis subsequent to a knee-replacement arthroplasty were retrospectively reviewed. The presence of a dense line outlining a portion of the capsule or articular surface of the knee joint (the so-called metal-line sign) was noted in association with wear in eleven patients. In the nine patients who had a positive sign and also had specimens available for histological examination, there was dense deposition of metal particles, whereas in the six patients who did not have a metal-line sign and had specimens available for histological examination, five had only a slight amount of metal in the synovial tissue and one, a moderate amount. The presence of the metal-line sign was associated with metal-induced synovitis in eleven of the eighteen patients. The sign should be useful in helping to make this diagnosis preoperatively in many patients.
Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.