Respective interest of T2 mapping and diffusion tensor imaging in assessing porcine knee cartilage with MR at 3 Teslas
Non-invasive quantitative assessment of articular cartilage integrity is essential for early detection and evaluation of osteoarthritis (OA) and for the follow-up of stem-cell-driven cartilage engineering. In this study, we investigated the feasibility of exploiting diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) on porcine knee joints with a clinical magnetic resonance (MR) scanner to extract micro-structural information in order to complement biochemical information quantified by T2 maps. We propose an MR protocol for quantifying T2 and cartilage microstructure with diffusion MR on a clinical scanner. Preliminary results were obtained on four pig knee joints using a 3 T GE clinical MRI scanner and an 8-channel knee coil array. The measured cartilage volume, T2 values, apparent diffusion coefficient and fractional anisotropy (FA) of femoral and tibial cartilage were respectively 9.8/2.3 mm2, 67.0/56.1 ms, 1.3/1.3×10−3 mm2/s and 0.4/0.3. This new protocol has the potential to be combined in vivo with quantitative assessment of both cartilage degradation and restoration in osteoarthritis.