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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with its unique ability to image and characterize soft tissue noninvasively, has emerged as one of the most accurate imaging methods available to diagnose bone and joint pathology. Currently, most evaluation of musculoskeletal pathology is done with two-dimensional acquisition techniques such as fast spin echo (FSE) imaging. The development of three-dimensional fast imaging methods based on balanced steady-state free precession (SSFP) shows great promise to improve MRI of the musculoskeletal system. These methods may allow acquisition of fluid sensitive isotropic data that can be reformatted into arbitrary planes for improved detection and visualization of pathology. Sensitivity to fluid and fat suppression are important issues in these techniques to improve delineation of cartilage contours, for detection of marrow edema and derangement of other joint structures.