The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of 3D ultrashort TE (UTE) MRI in depicting the cartilaginous endplate (CEP) and its abnormalities and to investigate the association between CEP abnormalities and disk degeneration on T2-weighted spin-echo (SE) MR images in cervical disks in vivo.Eight healthy volunteers and 70 patients were examined using 3-T MRI with the 3D UTE cones trajectory technique (TR/TE, 16.1/0.032, 6.6). In the volunteer study, quantitative and qualitative assessments of CEP depiction were conducted for the 3D UTE and T2-weighted SE imaging. In the patient study, CEP abnormalities were analyzed. Intersequence agreement between the images obtained with the first-echo 3D UTE sequence and the images created by subtracting the second-echo from the first-echo 3D UTE sequence (subtracted 3D UTE) and the intraobserver and interobserver agreements for 3D UTE overall were also tested. The CEP abnormalities on the 3D UTE images correlated with the Miyazaki grading of the T2-weighted SE images.In the volunteer study, the CEP was well visualized on 3D UTE images but not on T2-weighted SE images (p < 0.001). In the patient study, for evaluation of CEP abnormalities, intersequence agreements were substantial to almost perfect, intraobserver agreements were substantial to almost perfect, and interobserver agreements were moderate to substantial (p < 0.001). All of the CEP abnormalities correlated with the Miyazaki grade with statistical significance (p < 0.001).Three-dimensional UTE MRI feasibly depicts the CEP and CEP abnormalities, which may be associated with the severity of disk degeneration on T2-weighted SE MRI.
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