MR microscopy of hyaline cartilage: current status

Eur Radiol. 2002 Apr;12(4):814-23. doi: 10.1007/s003300101128. Epub 2001 Oct 11.


Cartilage degenerative diseases, such as osteoarthritis, affect million of people. Magnetic resonance imaging is presently the most accurate imaging modality in evaluating the state of hyaline cartilage; however, clinical MRI does not accurately reveal early degenerative alterations in cartilage, due mainly to low spatial resolution. Magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM, or microMRI) appears exceptionally well suited to the in vitro or ex vivo study of this heterogeneous tissue, due to its high spatial resolution; however, despite this, further studies are necessary to evaluate the potential of MRM in the detection of early cartilage damage. Herein we briefly review the current applications of MRM in the study of hyaline cartilage. In particular, we review the MR appearance of hyaline cartilage on high-resolution images, the different MRM techniques used to image normal and enzymatically or chemically degraded cartilage and the potential use of contrast agents. The future directions and the relevance of MRM findings for a better understanding of cartilage physiology in health and disease are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Contrast Media
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy* / methods


  • Contrast Media