Introduction: The goal of this in vitro validation study was to investigate the feasibility of biochemical MRI techniques, such as sodium imaging, T 2 mapping, fast imaging with steady state precession (FISP), and reversed FISP (PSIF), as potential markers for collagen, glycosaminoglycan and water content in the Achilles tendon. Materials and methods: Five fresh cadaver ankles acquired from a local anatomy department were used in the study. To acquire a sodium signal from the Achilles tendon, a 3D-gradient-echo sequence, optimized for sodium imaging, was used with TE = 7.71 ms and TR = 17 ms. The T2 relaxation times were obtained using a multi-echo, spin-echo technique with a repetition time (TR) of 1200 ms and six echo times. A 3D, partially balanced, steady-state gradient echo pulse sequence was used to acquire FISP and PSIF images, with TR/TE = 6.96/2.46 ms. MRI parameters were correlated with each other, as well as with histologically assessed glycosaminoglycan and water content in cadaver Achilles tendons. Results: The highest relevant Pearson correlation coefficient was found between sodium SNR and glycosaminoglycan content (r = 0.71, p = 0.007). Relatively high correlation was found between the PSIF signal and T2 values (r = 0.51, p = 0.036), and between the FISP signal and T2 values (r = 0.56, p = 0.047). Other correlations were found to be below the moderate level. Conclusion: This study demonstrated the feasibility of progressive biochemical MRI methods for the imaging of the AT. A GAG-specific, contrast-free method (sodium imaging), as well as collagen- and water-sensitive methods (T 2 mapping, FISP, PSIF), may be used in fast-relaxing tissues, such as tendons, in reasonable scan times.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by the Vienna Spots of Excellence des Wiener Wissenschafts-und Technologie-Fonds (WWTF) – Vienna Advanced Imaging Center – VIACLIC, the Slovak Scientific Grant Agency VEGA No. 2/0090/11 and ÖNB Jubiläumsfond AP13209.
- Achilles tendon
- Multi-parametric MRI
- Sodium MRI