Transient Bone Marrow Edema Syndrome versus Osteonecrosis: Perfusion Patterns at Dynamic Contrast-enhanced MR Imaging with High Temporal Resolution Can Allow Differentiation

Perfusion patterns on parameter maps generated by using dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging with high temporal resolution can allow differentiation of osteonecrosis from transient bone marrow edema syndrome in hip and knee joints.


To prospectively evaluate the perfusion patterns at quantitative dynamic contrast material–enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of transient bone marrow edema syndrome (TBMES) and avascular osteonecrosis.

Materials and Methods

Institutional review board approval and written informed consent were obtained. Thirty-two patients (21 men, 11 women; mean age, 48 years; 26 hips, 10 knees) underwent conventional MR imaging and a dynamic contrast-enhanced three-dimensional spoiled gradient-echo sequence at 3 T. Parameter maps for mean transit time (MTT) and plasma flow (PF) were evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively. Differences in perfusion patterns were analyzed by using the Fisher exact test. Regions of interest were drawn in areas of high PF and long MTT on each parametric map. Mean, median, standard deviation, minimum, and maximum values were determined. TBMES and osteonecrosis were compared statistically by using the Mann-Whitney U and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, with a P value of less than .05 considered indicative of a significant difference.


Nineteen joints with TBMES and 17 joints with osteonecrosis were evaluated. TBMES joints showed a subchondral elongated area of high PF and low MTT that was surrounded by an area of long MTT and low PF. Osteonecrosis joints showed a subchondral area with low or no detectable PF and MTT adjacent to the joint surface, which was surrounded by a rim of high PF and intermediate MTT. Patterns for TBMES and osteonecrosis did not overlap. A significant difference (P < .001) in PF in the immediate subchondral area was found between TBMES and osteonecrosis; in joints with osteonecrosis, this was comparable to background noise, and therefore, could not be quantified. In the circumscribed rim of high PF and intermediate MTT, which was only found in joints with osteonecrosis, mean ± standard deviation PF was 18.9 mL/100 mL per minute ± 11.0 and mean MTT was 213.3 seconds ± 56.8. No significant difference between TBMES and osteonecrosis was found for MTT (P = .09) and PF (P = .75) in the surrounding area.


Parameter maps derived at dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging with high temporal resolution can allow differentiation of osteonecrosis from TBMES in hip and knee joints.

© RSNA, 2016

Online supplemental material is available for this article.


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Article History

Received December 3, 2015; revision requested January 11, 2016; revision received June 28; accepted August 3; final version accepted October 4.
Published online: Dec 01 2016
Published in print: May 2017