Quantitative T2 mapping during follow-up after matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation (MACT): Full-thickness and zonal evaluation to visualize the maturation of cartilage repair tissue



The purpose of this article was to evaluate the potential of in vivo zonal T2-mapping as a noninvasive tool in the longitudinal visualization of cartilage repair tissue maturation after matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation (MACT). Fifteen patients were treated with MACT and evaluated cross-sectionally, with a baseline MRI at a follow-up of 19.7 ± 12.1 months after cartilage transplantation surgery of the knee. In the same 15 patients, 12 months later (31.7 ± 12.0 months after surgery), a longitudinal 1-year follow-up MRI was obtained. MRI was performed on a 3 Tesla MR scanner; morphological evaluation was performed using a double-echo steady-state sequence; T2 maps were calculated from a multiecho, spin-echo sequence. Quantitative mean (full-thickness) and zonal (deep and superficial) T2 values were calculated in the cartilage repair area and in control cartilage sites. A statistical analysis of variance was performed. Full-tickness T2 values showed no significant difference between sites of healthy cartilage and cartilage repair tissue (p < 0.05). Using zonal T2 evaluation, healthy cartilage showed a significant increase from the deep to superficial cartilage layers (p < 0.05). Cartilage repair tissue after MACT showed no significant zonal increase from deep to superficial cartilage areas during baseline MRI (p > 0.05); however, during the 1-year follow-up, a significant zonal stratification could be observed (p < 0.05). Morphological evaluation showed no significant difference between the baseline and the 1-year follow-up MRI. T2 mapping seems to be more sensitive in revealing changes in the repair tissue compared to morphological MRI. In vivo zonal T2 assessment may be sensitive enough to characterize the maturation of cartilage repair tissue. © 2009 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 27: 957–963, 2009