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Ultrashort Echo Time T1&rgr; Is Sensitive to Enzymatic Degeneration of Human Menisci



The aim of the study was to determine whether quantitative ultrashort echo time (UTE) -T1ρ magnetic resonance (MR) measurements are sensitive to proteoglycan degradation in human menisci by trypsin digestion.


Conventional and quantitative UTE-T1ρ MR sequences were performed on 4 meniscal samples using a 3T scanner. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed before and after 4, 8, and 12 hours of trypsin solution immersion, inducing proteoglycan loss. One sample was used as a control. Digest solutions were analyzed for glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content. The UTE-T1ρ studies were analyzed for quantitative changes.


Images showed progressive tissue swelling, fiber disorganization, and increase in signal intensity after GAG depletion. The UTE-T1ρ values tended to increase with time after trypsin treatment (P = 0.06). Cumulative GAG loss into the bath showed a trend of increased values for trypsin-treated samples (P = 0.1).


Ultrashort echo time T1ρ measurements can noninvasively detect and quantify severity of meniscal degeneration, which has been correlated with progression of osteoarthritis.

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