Improved Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Microscopic Visualization of Joint Cartilage Using Liposome Entrapped Contrast Agents

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RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES.After intraarticular application of gadolinium (Gd)-DTPA the visualization cartilage surface roughness is limited because of diffusion into the cartilage. To improve the sensitivity of magnetic resonance (MR) arthrography to diagnose cartilage surface abnormalities, the authors have tested liposome-entrapped contrast agents.METHODS.Using paramagnetic contrast agents (Gd-DTPA and manganese chloride) free and entrapped in liposomes, respectively, high resolution MR imaging investigations were performed at 7.1 tesla on intact pig temporomandibular and rabbit knee joints.RESULTS.After intraarticular injection of the liposome-entrapped contrast agents an excellent contrast between cartilage surface and joint space was achieved. Diffusion of the contrast agent into the cartilage layer was prevented and the visualization of the cartilage surface was improved markedly. Small mechanically and enzymatically induced cartilage lesions could be assessed reliably.CONCLUSIONS.Intraarticular injection of liposome-entrapped contrast agents can improve the potential of MR arthrography concerning the detection of early osteoarthritic cartilage changes.

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