Ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging of the distal row of equine carpal bones: assessment of bone sclerosis and cartilage damage

Anastasiou A, Skioldebrand E, Ekman S, et al.

Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2003;44:501-512.

The distal row of carpal bones (C2, C3, and C4) from eight left intercarpal joints–four from Standardbred Trotters and four from Swedish Warmblood horses–were used to assess the potential of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to detect cartilage and bone lesions. The joints used in the study were classified by macroscopic and radiographic examinations as having normal, mild, moderate, or severe articular cartilage lesions and bone sclerosis. Those classifications correlated well with the appearance of the MR images. Bone sclerosis in the MR images was observed as regions of decreased signal intensity. Upon quantitative analysis of the MR images there was a significant difference (p < 0.0001) in the MR signal intensity from areas where radiographic bone sclerosis was observed compared to areas of radiographic nonsclerotic bone. In addition, the MR images were used to pilot the location of histology slices through areas of interest that were then examined microscopically; hence, the lesions found from the MR imaging examination were verified microscopically. It was concluded that cartilage lesions and cartilage loss are related to the sclerotic state of the underlying bone. The MR protocols developed in this study were applied on five intact cadaveric carpal joints, and it was concluded that MR imaging could successfully be used in the intact joint to detect minor cartilage and bone lesions not visualized by either radiography or macroscopic examination. Hence, MR imaging can be used to delineate interactions between articular cartilage and subchondral bone over time and in vivo.