Can T1-rho MRI detect acetabular cartilage degeneration in femoroacetabular impingement?

A pilot study

K. S. Rakhra, P-J. Lattanzio, A. Cárdenas-Blanco, I. G. Cameron, P. E. Beaulé


Advanced MRI cartilage imaging such as T1-rho (T1ρ) for the diagnosis of early cartilage degradation prior to morpholgic radiological changes may provide prognostic information in the management of joint disease. This study aimed first to determine the normal T1ρ profile of cartilage within the hip, and secondly to identify any differences in T1ρ profile between the normal and symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) hip. Ten patients with cam-type FAI (seven male and three female, mean age 35.9 years (28 to 48)) and ten control patients (four male and six female, mean age 30.6 years (22 to 35)) underwent 1.5T T1ρ MRI of a single hip. Mean T1ρ relaxation times for full thickness and each of the three equal cartilage thickness layers were calculated and compared between the groups. The mean T1ρ relaxation times for full cartilage thickness of control and FAI hips were similar (37.17 ms (sd 9.95) and 36.71 ms (sd 6.72), respectively). The control group demonstrated a T1ρ value trend, increasing from deep to superficial cartilage layers, with the middle third having significantly greater T1ρ relaxation values than the deepest third (p = 0.008). The FAI group demonstrated loss of this trend. The deepest third in the FAI group demonstrated greater T1ρ relaxation values than controls (p = 0.028).

These results suggest that 1.5T T1ρ MRI can detect acetabular hyaline cartilage changes in patients with FAI.


  • The authors thank A. Fazekas for patient coordination, data tabulation and editorial assistance, and S. Poitras for statistical design and analyses.

    This study was funded via a Canadian Heads of Academic Radiology (CHAR)/GE Healthcare Development Award ($5000 + $5000 matched by Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Ottawa Hospital).

    No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

  • Received May 1, 2012.
  • Accepted May 8, 2012.
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