To assess the performance of a 3D fast spin echo (FSE) pulse sequence utilizing out-of-slab cancellation through phase alternation and micro-magnetic resonance imaging (μMRI)-based virtual bone biopsy processing methods to probe the serial reproducibility and sensitivity of structural and mechanical parameters of the distal tibia at 7.0T.
Materials and Methods
The distal tibia of five healthy subjects was imaged at three timepoints with a 3D FSE sequence at 137 × 137 × 410 μm3 voxel size. Follow-up images were retrospectively 3D registered to baseline images. Coefficients of variation (CV) and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) for measures of scale and topology of the whole tibial trabecular bone (TB) cross-section as well as finite-element-derived Young's and shear moduli of central cuboidal TB subvolumes (8 × 8 × 5 mm3) were evaluated as measures of reproducibility and reliability. Four additional cubic TB subregions (anterior, medial, lateral, and posterior) of similar dimensions were extracted and analyzed to determine associations between whole cross-section and subregional structural parameters.
The mean signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) over the 15 image acquisitions was 27.5 ± 2.1. Retrospective registration yielded an average common analysis volume of 67% across the three exams per subject. Reproducibility (mean CV = 3.6%; range, 1.5%–5%) and reliability (ICCs, 0.95–0.99) of all parameters permitted parameter-based discrimination of the five subjects in spite of the narrow age range (26–36 years) covered. Parameters characterizing topology were better able to distinguish two individuals who demonstrated similar values for scalar measurements (≈34% difference, P < 0.001). Whole-section axial stiffness encompassing the cortex was superior at distinguishing two individuals relative to its central subregional TB counterpart (≈8% difference; P < 0.05). Interregion comparisons showed that although all parameters were correlated (mean R2 = 0.78; range 0.57–0.99), the strongest associations observed were those for the erosion index (mean R2 = 0.95, P ≤ 0.01).
The reproducibility and structural and mechanical parameter-based discriminative ability achieved in five healthy subjects suggests that 7T-derived μMRI of TB can be applied towards serial patient studies of osteoporosis and may enable earlier detection of disease or treatment-based effects. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2011;. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.