To evaluate biexponential T2 relaxation mapping of human knee cartilage in vivo in clinically feasible scan times.
Materials and Methods
T2-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) images were acquired from eight healthy volunteers using a standard 3T clinical scanner. A 3D Turbo-Flash sequence was modified to enable T2-weighted imaging with different echo times. Series of T2-weighted images were fitted using mono- and biexponential models with two- and four-parametric nonlinear approaches, respectively.
Biexponential relaxation of T2 was detected in the knee cartilage in five regions of interest in all eight healthy volunteers. Short/long relaxation components of T2 were estimated to be 8.27 ± 0.68 / 45.35 ± 3.79 msec with corresponding fractions of 41.3 ± 1.1% / 58.6 ± 4.6%, respectively. The monoexponential relaxation of T2 was measured to be 26.9 ± 2.27 msec. The experiments showed good repeatability with coefficient of variation root mean square (CVrms) < 18% in all regions. The only difference in gender was observed in medial tibial cartilage, where the biexponential T2 in female volunteers was significantly higher compared to male volunteers (P = 0.014). Significant differences were observed in T2 relaxation between different regions on interest.
Biexponential relaxation of T2 was observed in the human knee cartilage in vivo. The short and long components are thought to be related to the tightly bound and loosely bound macromolecular water compartments. These preliminary results of biexponential T2 analysis could potentially be used to increase the specificity for detection of early osteoarthritis by measuring different water compartments and their fractions.
Level of Evidence: 1
Technical Efficacy: Stage 1
J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2017.