Diagnostic Value of T1 and T2* Relaxation Times and Off-Resonance Saturation Effects in the Evaluation of Achilles Tendinopathy by MRI at 3T

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Abstract

Purpose:

To evaluate and compare the diagnostic value of T1, T2* relaxation times and off-resonance saturation ratios (OSR) in healthy controls and patients with different clinical and morphological stages of Achilles tendinopathy.

Material and Methods:

Forty-two healthy Achilles tendons and 34 tendons of 17 patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic tendinopathy were investigated clinically with conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences on a 3T whole-body MR scanner and a dynamic ultrasound examination. In addition, T1 and T2* relaxation times were assessed using an ultrashort echo time (UTE) imaging sequence with flip angle and echo time variation. For the calculation of OSR values a Gaussian off-resonance saturation pulse (frequency offset: 750–5000 Hz) was used. The diagnostic value of the derived MR values was assessed and compared using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.

Results:

ROC curves demonstrate the highest overall test performance for OSR values at 2000 Hz off-resonance in differentiating slightly (OSR-2000 [AUC: 0.930] > T2* [AUC: 0.884] > T1 [AUC: 0.737]) and more severe pathologically altered tendon areas (OSR-2000 [AUC: 0.964] > T2* [AUC: 0.917] > T1 [AUC: 0.819]) from healthy ones.

Conclusion:

OSR values at a frequency offset of 2000 Hz demonstrated a better sensitivity and specificity for detecting mild and severe stages of tendinopathy compared to T2* and particularly when compared to T1 relaxation times.

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