T1 rho and T2 mapping are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to detect early degenerative changes in cartilage. Recent advancements have enabled 3D acquisition for both techniques. The objective of the present study was to examine the correlation of 3D T1 rho and 3D T2 mapping with macroscopic and histological characteristics of knee cartilage. Twenty-one patients who underwent total knee arthroplasty due to osteoarthritis with involvement of the medial compartment but with minimum involvement of the lateral compartment were enrolled. Prior to surgery, five series of MRI were acquired with a 3-T scanner. 3D T1 rho/T2 analyses were performed following determination of regions to be assessed using in-house software that incorporated three series of MRI acquisitions data (3D-MERGE, 3D-SPGR, and 3D-CUBE). During surgery, the cartilage of the lateral compartment was macroscopically assessed with the International Cartilage Research Society (ICRS) articular classification system. The extracted specimens were histologically assessed using the OARSI histology score. Three regions of interest (ROI) were assessed for each slice (two slices per knee): the central lateral femoral condyle (cLFC), the posterior portion of the lateral femoral condyle (pLFC), and the lateral tibia plateau (LTP). For each ROI, the mean T1 rho and T2 relaxation time, the ICRS grade, and the OARSI score were compared. Neither the T1 rho nor the T2 reflected the macroscopic grading. The T1 rho could discriminate between histological grades 1 and 2. However, the T2 could not. The T1 rho relaxation time was higher in the pLFC than in the cLFC even in the same grade. Compared to T2 mapping, T1 rho mapping may have an advantage in differentiating grades I and II cartilage degeneration on OARSI histological grading system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas