Trabecular bone volume fraction mapping by low-resolution MRI

Authors

  • M.A. Fernández-Seara,

    1. Laboratory for Structural NMR Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • H.K. Song,

    1. Laboratory for Structural NMR Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • F.W. Wehrli

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory for Structural NMR Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Laboratory for Structural NMR Imaging, Department of Radiology, 1 Silverstein, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
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Abstract

Trabecular bone volume fraction (TBVF) is highly associated with the mechanical competence of trabecular bone. TBVF is ordinarily measured by histomorphometry from bone biopsies or, noninvasively, by means of high-resolution microcomputed tomography and, more recently, by micro-MRI. The latter methods require spatial resolution sufficient to resolve trabeculae, along with segmentation techniques that allow unambiguous assignment of the signal to bone or bone marrow. In this article it is shown that TBVF can be measured under low-resolution conditions by exploiting the attenuation of the MR signal resulting from fractional occupancy of the imaging voxel by bone and bone marrow, provided that a reference signal is available from a marrow volume devoid of trabeculation. The method requires accurate measurement of apparent proton density, which entails correction for various sources of error. Key among these are the spatial nonuniformity in the RF field amplitude and effects of the slice profile, which are determined by B1 field mapping and numerical integration of the Bloch equations, respectively. By contrast, errors from variations in bone marrow composition (hematopoietic vs. fatty) between trabecular and reference site are predicted to be small and usually negligible. The method was evaluated in phantoms and in vivo in the distal radius and found to be accurate to 1% in marrow volume fraction. Finally, in a group of 12 patients of varying skeletal status, TBVF in the calcaneus was found to strongly correlate with integral bone mineral density of the lumbar vertebrae (r2 = 0.83, p < 0.0001). The method may fail in large imaging objects such as the human trunk at high magnetic field where standing wave and RF penetration effects cause intensity variations that cannot be corrected. Magn Reson Med 46:103–113, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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