To assess human articular cartilage tissue functionality by serial multiparametric quantitative MRI (qMRI) mapping as a function of histological degeneration. Forty-nine cartilage samples obtained during total knee replacement surgeries were placed in a standardized artificial knee joint within an MRI-compatible compressive loading device and imaged in situ and at three loading positions, i.e. unloaded, at 2.5 mm displacement (20% body weight [BW]) and at 5 mm displacement (110% BW). Using a clinical 3.0 T MRI system (Achieva, Philips), serial T1, T1 rho, T2 and T2* maps were generated for each sample and loading position. Histology (Mankin scoring) and biomechanics (Young's modulus) served as references. Samples were dichotomized as intact (int, n = 27) or early degenerative (deg, n = 22) based on histology and analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA and unpaired Student's t-tests after log-transformation. For T1 rho, T2 and T2*, significant loading-induced differences were found in deg (in contrast to int) samples, while for T1 significant decreases in all zones were observed, irrespective of degeneration. In conclusion, cartilage functionality may be visualized using serial qMRI parameter mapping and the response-to-loading patterns are associated with histological degeneration. Hence, loading-induced changes in qMRI parameter maps provide promising surrogate parameters of tissue functionality and status in health and disease.
- KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS