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Keywords:

  • fuzzy distance transform;
  • digital topology;
  • trabecular bone;
  • Olympic fencers;
  • fracture risk;
  • osteoporosis;
  • osteoarthritis

Abstract

Purpose

To produce in vivo high-resolution images of the knee and to determine the feasibility of using 7T MR to detect changes in trabecular bone microarchitecture in elite athletes (Olympic fencers) who undergo high impact activity.

Materials and Methods

The dominant knees of four males from the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team and three matched healthy male controls were scanned in a 7T whole-body scanner using a quadrature knee coil with three-dimensional (3D) fast low angle shot (FLASH): 50 axial images at the distal femur (0.156 mm × 0.156 mm) and 80 axial images at the knee joint (0.195 mm × 0.195 mm). Bone volume fraction (BVF) and marrow volume fraction (MVF) images were computed and fuzzy distance transform (FDT) and digital topological analysis (DTA) were applied to determine: trabecular number (Tb.N), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th), and trabecular separation (Tb.Sp); BVF (BV/TV); trabecular and marrow space surface-to-curve ratio (SC, marker of plate to rod ratio); and trabecular and marrow space erosion index (EI, inverse marker for network connectivity). Quadriceps muscle volume (MV) was calculated as well. We calculated group means and performed two-tailed t-tests to determine statistical significance.

Results

Compared to controls, fencers had: decreased Tb.Sp (P = 0.0082 at femur, P = 0.051 at joint); increased Tb.N (P < 0.05 at both femur and joint) and BV/TV (P < 0.001 at both femur and joint); increased trabecular SC and decreased marrow space SC (P < 0.01 at both femur and joint); decreased trabecular EI and increased marrow space EI (P < 0.01 at both femur and joint); and increased MV (P = 0.038). There was no difference in Tb.Th at the distal femur (P = 0.92) or joint (P = 0.71) between groups.

Conclusion

To our knowledge, this is the first study to perform 7T MRI of the knee in vivo. Elite athletes who undergo high impact activity have increased MV and improved trabecular bone structure compared to controls. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2008;27:1089–1095. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.