Purpose: Daily activities including walking impose high-frequency cyclic forces on cartilage and repetitive compressive deformation. Analyzing cartilage deformation during walking would provide spatial maps of displacement and strain and enable viscoelastic characterization, which may serve as imaging biomarkers for early cartilage degeneration when the damage is still reversible. However, the time-dependent biomechanics of cartilage is not well described, and how defects in the joint impact the viscoelastic response is unclear. Methods: We used spiral acquisition with displacement-encoding MRI to quantify displacement and strain maps at a high frame rate (25 frames/s) in tibiofemoral joints. We also employed relaxometry methods (T1, T1ρ, T2, T2*) on the cartilage. Results: Normal and shear strains were concentrated on the bovine tibiofemoral contact area during loading, and the defected joint exhibited larger compressive strains. We also determined a positive correlation between the change of T1ρ in cartilage after cyclic loading and increased compressive strain on the defected joint. Viscoelastic behavior was quantified by the time-dependent displacement, where the damaged joint showed increased creep behavior compared to the intact joint. This technique was also successfully demonstrated on an in vivo human knee showing the gradual change of displacement during varus load. Conclusion: Our results indicate that spiral scanning with displacement encoding can quantitatively differentiate the damaged from intact joint using the strain and creep response. The viscoelastic response identified with this methodology could serve as biomarkers to detect defects in joints in vivo and facilitate the early diagnosis of joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.
- DENSE MRI
- relaxometry (T)
- spiral scanning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging