Measuring cartilage morphology with quantitative magnetic resonance imaging

Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2004 Dec;8(4):329-53. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-861579.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a three-dimensional imaging technique with unparalleled ability to delineate articular cartilage morphology in health and disease. In this article we will review work on the assessment of cartilage morphology with quantitative magnetic resonance imaging and its relevance to the study of cartilage anatomy, physiology, deformation, disease status, disease progression, and response to treatment. The review outlines available pulse sequences and techniques for segmentation and morphological analysis of cartilage morphology. It addresses the accuracy (validity) and precision (reproducibility) of these techniques and summarizes studies on cartilage deformation in intact joints. This article will also review work on determinants and functional adaptation of cartilage morphology and describe changes seen in osteoarthritis. We conclude that fat-suppressed or water excitation gradient-echo magnetic resonance sequences and state-of-the-art digital image analysis techniques display high accuracy and adequate precision for quantitative assessment of cartilage morphology. This renders these techniques powerful and promising tools for cartilage and osteoarthritis research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results