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research-article

Non-Invasive Assessment of Biochemical and Mechanical Properties of Lumbar Discs through Quantitative MRI in Asymptomatic Volunteers

[+] Author and Article Information
Mary H Foltz

University of Minnesota, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, MMC 388 Mayo, 420 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
foltz017@umn.edu

Craig C Kage

University of Minnesota, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, MMC 388 Mayo, 420 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
kagex001@umn.edu

Casey P Johnson

University of Minnesota, Department of Radiology, Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, 2021 6th Street S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455
john5037@umn.edu

Arin M. Ellingson

University of Minnesota, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, MMC 388 Mayo, 420 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
ellin224@umn.edu

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4037549 History: Received May 13, 2017; Revised August 01, 2017

Abstract

Intervertebral disc degeneration is a prevalent phenomenon associated with back pain. It is of critical clinical interest to discriminate disc health and identify early stages of degeneration. Traditional clinical T2-weighted MRI, assessed using the Pfirrmann classification system, is subjective and fails to adequately capture initial degenerative changes. Emerging quantitative MRI techniques offer a solution. Specifically, T2* mapping images water mobility in the macromolecular network and our preliminary ex vivo work shows high predictability of the disc's glycosaminoglycan content (s-GAG) and residual mechanics. The present study expands upon this work to estimate the biochemical and biomechanical properties in vivo and assess their relationship with both age and Pfirrmann grade. Eleven asymptomatic subjects (range: 18-62 years) were enrolled and imaged using 3T MRI. T2-weighted images (Pfirrmann grade) and quantitative T2* maps (estimate s-GAG and residual stress) were acquired. Surface maps based on the distribution of these properties were generated and integrated to quantify the surface volume. Correlational analyses were conducted to establish the relationship between each metric of disc health derived from the quantitative T2* maps with both age and Pfirrmann grade, where an inverse trend was observed. Furthermore, nucleus pulposus signal in conjunction with volumetric surface maps provided the ability to discern differences during initial stages of disc degeneration. This study highlights the ability of T2* mapping to non-invasively assess the s-GAG content and residual stress distribution of the entire disc, which may provide a powerful diagnostic tool for disc health assessment.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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