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Cartilage T1ρ and T2 Relaxation Times in Patients With Mild‐to‐Moderate Radiographic Hip Osteoarthritis

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To analyze region-specific T1ρ and T2 relaxation times of the hip joint cartilage in relation to presence or absence of radiographic hip osteoarthritis (OA) and presence or absence of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-detected cartilage defects.


Weight-bearing radiographs and 3T MRI studies of the hip were obtained from 84 volunteers. Based on Kellgren/Lawrence (K/L) scoring of the radiographs, 54 subjects were classified as healthy controls (K/L grade ≤1) and 30 were classified as having mild or moderate radiographic hip OA (K/L grades 2 or 3, respectively). Two-dimensional fat-suppressed fast spin-echo MRI sequences were used for semiquantitative clinical scoring of cartilage defects, and a T1ρ/T2 sequence was used to quantitatively assess the cartilage matrix. The femoral and acetabular cartilage was then segmented into 8 regions and the mean T1ρ/T2 values were calculated. Differences in T1ρ and T2 relaxation times were compared between subjects with and those without radiographic hip OA, and those with and those without femoral or acetabular cartilage defects.


Higher T1ρ and T2 relaxation times in the anterior superior and central regions of the acetabular cartilage were seen in individuals with radiographic hip OA and those with acetabular cartilage defects compared to their respective controls (P < 0.05). In the femoral cartilage, the differences in T1ρ and T2 were not significant for any of the comparisons. Significant differences in the T1ρ and T2 values (each P < 0.05) were found in more subregions of the cartilage and across the whole cartilage when subjects were stratified based on the presence of MRI-detected cartilage defects than when they were stratified based on the presence of radiographic hip OA.


T1ρ and T2 relaxation parameters are sensitive to the presence of cartilage degeneration. Both parameters may therefore support MRI evidence of cartilage defects of the hip.

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