Assessment of articular cartilage degradation in response to an impact injury using µMRI

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Connective tissue research


PURPOSE: Degradation of articular cartilage (AC) due to injury to the knee joint may initiate post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). Failure to diagnose the onset of the disease at an early stage makes the cure ineffective for PTOA. This study investigated the consequences of a mechanical injury to the knee in a rabbit model using microscopic magnetic resonance imaging (µMRI) at high resolution.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A mechanical injury was induced to the knee joints of 12 rabbits. Cartilage blocks were extracted from the non-impacted and impacted knee joints after 2 and 14 weeks post-impact. The specimens were studied using µMRI T2 relaxation and inductively coupled plasma analysis to determine the early degradation of the articular cartilage.

RESULTS: The data established a connection between T2 relaxation time and the early progression of knee PTOA after an impact injury. T2 values were found to be higher in the impacted cartilage at both 2 and 14 weeks, in particular, T2-55° values in the impacted samples displayed a significant rise of 6.93% after 2 weeks and 20.02% after 14 weeks. Lower glycosaminoglycan measurement and higher water content in the impacted cartilage confirmed the µMRI results.

CONCLUSIONS: This µMRI T2 study was able to detect cartilage damage in the impacted knees. In addition, greater degradation in the affected knees at 14 weeks than at 2 weeks indicated the progressive nature of cartilage deterioration over time. The µMRI results were in accord with the biochemical analysis, indicating the detection of early structural damage in the cartilage.

Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Rabbits; Cartilage, Articular; Knee Joint; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Osteoarthritis; Disease Models, Animal

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ePub ahead of print





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