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In Vivo Biochemical 7.0 Tesla Magnetic Resonance: Preliminary Results of dGEMRIC, Zonal T2, and T2* Mapping of Articular Cartilage


Mamisch TC, Hughes T, Zilkens C, Quirbach S, Scheffler,  K
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Welsch, G., Mamisch TC, Hughes T, Zilkens C, Quirbach S, Scheffler, K., Kraff O, Schweitzer ME, Szomolanyi, P., & Trattnig, S. (2008). In Vivo Biochemical 7.0 Tesla Magnetic Resonance: Preliminary Results of dGEMRIC, Zonal T2, and T2* Mapping of Articular Cartilage. Investigative Radiology, 43(9), 619-626. doi:10.1097/RLI.0b013e31817e9122.

INTRODUCTION: Ultra-high-field whole-body systems (7.0 T) have a high potential for future human in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In musculoskeletal MRI, biochemical imaging of articular cartilage may benefit, in particular. Delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI of cartilage (dGEMRIC) and T2 mapping have shown potential at 3.0 T. Although dGEMRIC, allows the determination of the glycosaminoglycan content of articular cartilage, T2 mapping is a promising tool for the evaluation of water and collagen content. In addition, the evaluation of zonal variation, based on tissue anisotropy, provides an indicator of the nature of cartilage ie, hyaline or hyaline-like articular cartilage.Thus, the aim of our study was to show the feasibility of in vivo dGEMRIC, and T2 and T2* relaxation measurements, at 7.0 T MRI; and to evaluate the potential of T2 and T2* measurements in an initial patient study after matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation (MACT) in the knee. MATERIALS AND METHODS: MRI was performed on a whole-body 7.0 T MR scanner using a dedicated circular polarization knee coil. The protocol consisted of an inversion recovery sequence for dGEMRIC, a multiecho spin-echo sequence for standard T2 mapping, a gradient-echo sequence for T2* mapping and a morphologic PD SPACE sequence. Twelve healthy volunteers (mean age, 26.7 +/- 3.4 years) and 4 patients (mean age, 38.0 +/- 14.0 years) were enrolled 29.5 +/- 15.1 months after MACT. For dGEMRIC, 5 healthy volunteers (mean age, 32.4 +/- 11.2 years) were included. T1 maps were calculated using a nonlinear, 2-parameter, least squares fit analysis. Using a region-of-interest analysis, mean cartilage relaxation rate was determined as T1 (0) for precontrast measurements and T1 (Gd) for postcontrast gadopentate dimeglumine [Gd-DTPA(2-)] measurements. T2 and T2* maps were obtained using a pixelwise, monoexponential, non-negative least squares fit analysis; region-of-interest analysis was carried out for deep and superficial cartilage aspects. Statistical evaluation was performed by analyses of variance. RESULTS: Mean T1 (dGEMRIC) values for healthy volunteers showed slightly different results for femoral [T1 (0): 1259 +/- 277 ms; T1 (Gd): 683 +/- 141 ms] compared with tibial cartilage [T1 (0): 1093 +/- 281 ms; T1 (Gd): 769 +/- 150 ms]. Global mean T2 relaxation for healthy volunteers showed comparable results for femoral (T2: 56.3 +/- 15.2 ms; T2*: 19.7 +/- 6.4 ms) and patellar (T2: 54.6 +/- 13.0 ms; T2*: 19.6 +/- 5.2 ms) cartilage, but lower values for tibial cartilage (T2: 43.6 +/- 8.5 ms; T2*: 16.6 +/- 5.6 ms). All healthy cartilage sites showed a significant increase from deep to superficial cartilage (P < 0.001). Within healthy cartilage sites in MACT patients, adequate values could be found for T2 (56.6 +/- 13.2 ms) and T2* (18.6 +/- 5.3 ms), which also showed a significant stratification. Within cartilage repair tissue, global mean values showed no difference, with 55.9 +/- 4.9 ms for T2 and 16.2 +/- 6.3 ms for T2*. However, zonal assessment showed only a slight and not significant increase from deep to superficial cartilage (T2: P = 0.174; T2*: P = 0.150). CONCLUSION: In vivo T1 dGEMRIC assessment in healthy cartilage, and T2 and T2* mapping in healthy and reparative articular cartilage, seems to be possible at 7.0 T MRI. For T2 and T2*, zonal variation of articular cartilage could also be evaluated at 7.0 T. This zonal assessment of deep and superficial cartilage aspects shows promising results for the differentiation of healthy and affected articular cartilage. In future studies, optimized protocol selection, and sophisticated coil technology, together with increased signal at ultra-high-field MRI, may lead to advanced biochemical cartilage imaging.