Multiparametric MRI assessment of human articular cartilage degeneration: Correlation with quantitative histology and mechanical properties

Jari Rautiainen, Mikko J. Nissi, Elli Noora Salo, Virpi Tiitu, Mikko A.J. Finnilä, Olli Matti Aho, Simo Saarakkala, Petri Lehenkari, Jutta Ellermann, Miika T. Nieminen

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Purpose To evaluate the sensitivity of quantitative MRI techniques (T1, T1,Gd, T2, continous wave (CW) T dispersion, adiabatic T, adiabatic T, RAFF and inversion-prepared magnetization transfer (MT)) for assessment of human articular cartilage with varying degrees of natural degeneration. Methods Osteochondral samples (n = 14) were obtained from the tibial plateaus of patients undergoing total knee replacement. MRI of the specimens was performed at 9.4T and the relaxation time maps were evaluated in the cartilage zones. For reference, quantitative histology, OARSI grading and biomechanical measurements were performed and correlated with MRI findings. Results All MRI parameters, except T1,Gd, showed statistically significant differences in tangential and full-thickness regions of interest (ROIs) between early and advanced osteoarthritis (OA) groups, as classified by OARSI grading. CW-T showed significant dispersion in all ROIs and featured classical laminar structure of cartilage with spin-lock powers below 1000 Hz. Adiabatic T, T, CW-T1ρ, MT, and RAFF correlated strongly with OARSI grade and biomechanical parameters. Conclusion MRI parameters were able to differentiate between early and advanced OA. Furthermore, rotating frame methods, namely adiabatic T, adiabatic T, CW-T, and RAFF, as well as MT experiment correlated strongly with biomechanical parameters and OARSI grade, suggesting high sensitivity of the parameters for cartilage degeneration. Magn Reson Med 74:249-259, 2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages11
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • cartilage
  • human
  • osteoarthritis
  • quantitative MRI
  • rotating frame relaxation


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