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Davis CA, Genant HK, Dunham JS. The effects of bone on proton NMR relaxation times of surrounding liquids.Preliminary attempts by our group at UCSF to assess fat content of vertebral marrow in the lumbar spine using relaxation time information demonstrated that the presence of trabecular bone affects relaxation times. The objective of this work was a thorough study of the effects of bone on NMR relaxation characteristics of surrounding liquids. Trabecular bone from autopsy specimens was ground up and sifted into a series of powders with graded densities ranging from 0.3 gm/cc to 0.8 gm/cc. Each powder was placed first in n-saline and then in cottonseed oil. With spectros-copy, spin-lattice relaxation times (T1) and effective spin-spin relaxation times (T2*) were measured for each liquid in each bone powder. As bone density and surface to volume ratio increased, Tl decreased faster for saline than for oil. T2* decreased significantly for both water and oil as the surface to volume ratio increased. It was concluded that effects of water on T1 could be explained by a surface interaction at the bone/liquid interface, which restricted rotational and translational motion of nearby molecules. The T1s of oil were not affected since oil molecules are nonpolar, do not participate in significant intermolecular hydrogen bonding, and therefore would not be expected to interact strongly with the bone surface. Effects on T2* could be explained by local magnetic field inhomogeneities created by discontinuous magnetic susceptibility near the bone surface. These preliminary results suggest that water in contact with trabecular bone in vivo will exhibit shortened relaxation times.