Purpose: High-resolution visualization of cartilage canals has been restricted to histological methods and contrast-enhanced imaging. In this study, the feasibility of non-contrast-enhanced susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) for visualization of the cartilage canals was investigated ex vivo at 9.4 T, further explored at 7 and 3 T and demonstrated in vivo at 7 T, using a porcine animal model. Methods: SWI scans of specimens of distal femur and humerus from 1 to 8 week-old piglets were conducted at 9.4 T using 3D-GRE sequence and SWI post-processing. The stifle joints of a 2-week old piglet were scanned ex vivo at 7 and 3 T. Finally, the same sites of a 3-week-old piglet were scanned, in vivo, at 7 T under general anesthesia using the vendor-provided sequences. Results: High-contrast visualization of the cartilage canals was obtained ex vivo, especially at higher field strengths; the results were confirmed histologically. In vivo feasibility was demonstrated at 7 T and comparison of ex vivo scans at 3 and 7 T indicated feasibility of using SWI at 3 T. Conclusions: High-resolution 3D visualization of cartilage canals was demonstrated using SWI. This demonstration of fully noninvasive visualization opens new avenues to explore skeletal maturation and the role of vascular supply for diseases such as osteochondrosis.
- cartilage canals
- epiphyseal cartilage
- susceptibility weighted imaging