Disorganization of collagen fibers is a sign of early-stage cartilage degeneration in osteoarthritic knees. Water molecules trapped within well-organized collagen fibrils would be sensitive to collagen alterations. Multicomponent effective transverse relaxation (T2*) mapping with ultrashort echo time acquisitions is here proposed to probe short T(2) relaxations in those trapped water molecules. Six human tibial plateau explants were scanned on a 3T MRI scanner using a home-developed ultrashort echo time sequence with echo times optimized via Monte Carlo simulations. Time constants and component intensities of T2* decays were calculated at individual pixels, using the nonnegative least squares algorithm. Four T2*-decay types were found: 99% of cartilage pixels having mono-, bi-, or nonexponential decay, and 1% showing triexponential decay. Short T2* was mainly in 1-6 ms, while long T2* was ~ 22 ms. A map of decay types presented spatial distribution of these T2* decays. These results showed the technical feasibility of multicomponent T2* mapping on human knee cartilage explants.
View details for DOI 10.1002/mrm.22450
View details for PubMedID 20865752
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2965791