RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES. The authors have addressed the ability of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to resolve incremental thinning of articular cartilage by assessment of three-dimensional (3-D) and two-dimensional (2-D) representations. METHODS. Using a porcine knee model, sequential cartilage shavings were characterized using a 3-D fat suppressed spoiled gradient-echo (SPGR) MR imaging protocol that provided good contrast between high-signal articular cartilage and lower signal surrounding tissues. Lesion dimensional measurements were made on both MR images and 3-D computerized reconstructions. Volumes of cartilage removed were approximately 0.06 mL. RESULTS. Incremental articular cartilage thinning typically was apparent on 3-D reconstructed images. Three-dimensional articular cartilage reconstructions were effective in depicting location and orientation of shaved cartilage regions. Average percent error associated with length and width measurements based on 2-D MR images was approximately 19% for observer 1 and 33% for observer 2 when compared with direct measurements of the shaved cartilage. Average percent error of thickness measurements based on 2-D MR was approximately 21% for observer 1 and 37% for observer 2. Overall average errors associated with length, width, and thickness measurements were approximately 25%. CONCLUSIONS. Incremental thinning of articular cartilage can be tracked qualitatively and quantitatively using 3-D computerized reconstructions and 2-D MR images. Errors associated with the quantitative measurements can be attributed to limitations of measurement methods and intrinsic limitations of MR resolution.
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Three-dimensional reconstruction
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