Cartilage in Anterior Cruciate Ligament–Reconstructed Knees: MR Imaging T1ρ and T2—Initial Experience with 1-year Follow-up

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Quantitative MR imaging T1ρ and T2 have potential as imaging markers for early detection of cartilage degeneration in anterior cruciate ligament–reconstructed knees.


To longitudinally evaluate cartilage matrix changes by using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging T1ρ (T1 relaxation time in rotating frame) and T2 quantification and to study the relationship between meniscal damage and cartilage degeneration in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)–reconstructed knees.

Materials and Methods

This was an institutional review board–approved, HIPAA-compliant study. Informed consent was obtained. Twelve patients with acute ACL injuries were imaged with 3.0-T MR imaging at baseline (after injury and prior to ACL reconstruction) and 1 year after ACL reconstruction. Ten age-matched healthy subjects were studied as controls. Cartilage T1ρ and T2 were quantified in full thickness, superficial, and deep layers of defined subcompartments at baseline and follow-up in ACL-injured knees and were compared with measures acquired in matched regions of control knees. Meniscal lesions were graded by using modified subscores of the Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score system.


T1ρ values of the posterolateral tibial cartilage in ACL-injured knees were significantly elevated at baseline compared with T1ρvalues of control knees and were not fully recovered at 1-year follow-up. T1ρ values of weight-bearing medial femorotibial cartilage in ACL-injured knees were significantly elevated at 1-year follow-up compared with those of control knees. No significant differences in T2 values between ACL-injured and control knees were found. Patients with lesions in the posterior horn of the medial meniscus showed a greater increase of T1ρ and T2 from baseline to follow-up in adjacent cartilage than patients without lesions in the medial meniscus.


Quantitative MR imaging T1ρ and T2 enable detection of changes in the cartilage matrix of ACL-reconstructed knees as early as 1 year after ACL reconstruction.

© RSNA, 2010


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Article History

Received May 18, 2010; revision requested July 7; revision received August 11; accepted August 17; final version accepted September 8.
Published online: Feb 2011
Published in print: Feb 2011