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T1 and T2* mapping of the human quadriceps and patellar tendons using ultra-short echo-time (UTE) imaging and bivariate relaxation parameter-based volumetric visualization

  • Quantification of magnetic resonance (MR)-based relaxation parameters of tendons and ligaments is challenging due to their very short transverse relaxation times, requiring application of ultra-short echo-time (UTE) imaging sequences. We quantify both T1 and T2⁎ in the quadriceps and patellar tendons of healthy volunteers at a field strength of 3 T and visualize the results based on 3D segmentation by using bivariate histogram analysis. We applied a 3D ultra-short echo-time imaging sequence with either variable repetition times (VTR) or variable flip angles (VFA) for T1 quantification in combination with multi-echo acquisition for extracting T2⁎. The values of both relaxation parameters were subsequently binned for bivariate histogram analysis and corresponding cluster identification, which were subsequently visualized. Based on manually-drawn regions of interest in the tendons on the relaxation parameter maps, T1 and T2⁎ boundaries were selected in the bivariate histogram to segment the quadriceps and patellar tendons and visualize the relaxation times by 3D volumetric rendering. Segmentation of bone marrow, fat, muscle and tendons was successfully performed based on the bivariate histogram analysis. Based on the segmentation results mean T2⁎ relaxation times, over the entire tendon volumes averaged over all subjects, were 1.8 ms ± 0.1 ms and 1.4 ms ± 0.2 ms for the patellar and quadriceps tendons, respectively. The mean T1 value of the patellar tendon, averaged over all subjects, was 527 ms ± 42 ms and 476 ms ± 40 ms for the VFA and VTR acquisitions, respectively. The quadriceps tendon had higher mean T1 values of 662 ms ± 97 ms (VFA method) and 637 ms ± 40 ms (VTR method) compared to the patellar tendon. 3D volumetric visualization of the relaxation times revealed that T1 values are not constant over the volume of both tendons, but vary locally. This work provided additional data to build upon the scarce literature available on relaxation times in the quadriceps and patellar tendons. We were able to segment both tendons and to visualize the relaxation parameter distributions over the entire tendon volumes.
Author:Martin Krämer, Marta Maggioni, Nicholas Brisson, Stefan ZachowORCiD, Ulf Teichgräber, Georg Duda, Jürgen Reichenbach
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):Magnetic Resonance Imaging
First Page:29
Last Page:36
Year of first publication:2019
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