Baird DK, Kincaid SA, Hathcock JT, et al.
Five gelatin phantoms were constructed to study the effect of matrical hydration on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signal intensity using a low-field strength imager. Water content of the phantoms ranged from 75 to 95% weight/weight. Signal intensity values of each phantom were measured using five imaging sequences: proton density, T1-weighted, T2-weighted, inversion recovery with short inversion time, and inversion recovery with long inversion time. There was significant positive correlation (p < .05) of signal intensity with differences in hydration using the T2-weighted sequence and the inversion recovery sequence with short inversion time. Significant negative correlations (p < .05) were found with T1-weighted imaging and the inversion recovery sequence with long inversion time. In a second part of the study, in vivo focal variations in MRI signal intensity were evaluated in a canine cranial cruciate ligament deficient model of osteoarthritis. Signal intensity measurements were obtained from multiple areas of articular cartilage to identify an initial stage in osteoarthritis that is characterized in part by increased hydration of articular cartilage. At 6 weeks post-transection of the cranial cruciate ligament, an increase in signal intensity was detected in the articular cartilage of the weight-bearing portion of the lateral femoral condyle and the caudal portion of the medial tibial condyle with T1-weighted imaging. The increase in signal intensity may reflect increased proteoglycan synthesis by chondrocytes that also occurs early in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis.