Sensitivity of ACL Volume and T2* Relaxation Time to Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan Conditions, 2017

Topics: ACL; MRI; T2* relaxometry

Authors: Jillian E. Beveridge, Edward G. Walsh, Martha M. Murray, C. Fleming


Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) volume and T2∗ relaxation times from magnetic resonance (MR) images have been previously shown to predict the structural properties of healing ligaments. We investigated whether MR imaging scan resolution and condition (in vivo, in situ, or ex vivo) affected ACL volume and T2∗ relaxation times in intact ligaments. ACLs of 14 pigs were imaged using a 3T scanner and a six-channel flexcoil using at least two of four possible scan conditions: (1) in vivo moderate resolution (n=14); (2) in vivo high resolution (n=7); (3) in situ high resolution acquired within 60 minutes of euthanasia (n=6); and (4) ex vivo high resolution following hind limb disarticulation and one freeze-thaw cycle (n=7). T2∗ relaxation times were mapped to the ACL voxels. The total ACL volume was then divided into four sub-volumes (Vol1-4) based on predetermined increasing ranges of T2∗ times. ACL T2∗ statistics (first quartile, median, and standard deviation (SD)) were computed. Scan resolution had no effect on the total ACL volume, but Vol1 and first quartile T2∗ times decreased with high resolution and in situ/ex vivo scan conditions. The most dramatic differences in T2∗ summary statistics were between in vivo moderate and ex vivo high resolution scan conditions that included a freeze-thaw cycle: ACL T2∗ SD increased by over 50% in 9 animals, and more than 90% in 4 animals. Our results indicated that T2∗-based prediction models to quantify in vivo structural properties of healing ligaments should be based on high resolution in vivo MR scan conditions.

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