Differences of radiocarpal cartilage alterations in arthritis and osteoarthritis using morphological and biochemical magnetic resonance imaging without gadolinium-based contrast agent administration

Eur Radiol. 2019 May;29(5):2581-2588. doi: 10.1007/s00330-018-5880-6. Epub 2018 Dec 12.


Objectives: To identify differences of radiocarpal cartilage alterations in osteoarthritis and arthritis using multiparametrical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) comprising morphological and biochemical sequences without gadolinium-based contrast agent administration.

Methods: In this prospective study, multiparametrical MRI of the radiocarpal cartilage was performed in 47 participants (mean age, 46.6 ± 17.6 years; min., 20 years; max., 79 years) on a 3 Tesla MRI. The cohort consisted of 11 patients suffering from arthritis, 10 patients with osteoarthritis, 14 patients after distal radius fracture, and 12 healthy volunteers. The radiocarpal cartilage was assessed using morphological (DESS, TrueFISP) and biochemical (T2*) MRI sequences without the application of intravenous contrast agent. The modified Outerbridge classification system for morphological and region-of-interest analyses for biochemical analysis was applied to assess the degree of cartilage damage in each patient before data were statistically tested for significant difference between the groups using a post hoc Tukey test.

Results: In morphological imaging, cartilage damage was significantly more frequent in arthritis and osteoarthritis than in healthy volunteers (DESS: p = 0.01, p = 0.0004; TrueFISP: p = 0.02, p = 0.0001). In T2* imaging, patients with osteoarthritis showed higher cartilage damage compared to patients with arthritis (p = 0.01).

Conclusion: With multiparametrical MRI, it is possible to identify differences of radiocarpal cartilage alterations of patients with arthritis and osteoarthritis using the combination of morphological and biochemical MR imaging of the radiocarpal cartilage without the application of contrast agent. Multiparametrical MRI without the usage of contrast agent may be a potential tool helping to distinguish both entities.

Key points: • Multiparametrical MRI with morphological and biochemical sequences allows the differentiation of patients with arthritis and osteoarthritis. • High-resolution MRI of radiocarpal cartilage is possible without administration of contrast agent.

Keywords: Arthritis; Morphological and cartilage MR imaging; Osteoarthritis; Radiocarpal cartilage; Without gadolinium-based contrast agent.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis / diagnosis*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA