In vivo visualization using MRI T2 mapping of induced osteochondrosis and osteochondritis dissecans lesions in goats undergoing controlled exercise

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In vivo visualization of subclinical osteochondrosis (OC) lesions, characterized by necrosis of epiphyseal growth cartilage, is necessary to clarify the pathogenesis of this disease. Hence, our objectives were to demonstrate induced necrosis of the epiphyseal cartilage in vivo using MRI and to monitor progression or resolution of resulting lesions. We also aimed to improve the goat model of OC by introducing controlled exercise. Vascular supply to the epiphyseal cartilage was surgically interrupted in four 5-day-old goats to induce ischemic cartilage necrosis in a medial femoral condyle. Starting 3 weeks postoperatively, goats underwent daily controlled exercise until euthanasia at 6, 10, 11 (n = 2) weeks postoperatively. T2 maps of operated and control femora were obtained in vivo at 3 (n = 4), 6 (n = 4), 9 (n = 3), and 11 (n = 2) weeks postoperatively using a 3 T MR scanner. In vivo MRI findings were validated against MRI results obtained ex vivo at 9.4 T in three goats and compared to histological results in all goats. Surgical interruption of the vascular supply caused ischemic cartilage necrosis in three out of four goats. T2 maps obtained in vivo at 3 T identified regions of increased relaxation time consistent with discrete areas of cartilage necrosis 3–11 weeks postoperatively and demonstrated delayed progression of the ossification front at 9 (n = 1) and 11 (n = 2) weeks postoperatively. In vivo MRI findings were confirmed by ex vivo MRI at 9.4 T and by histology. Identification of cartilage necrosis in clinical patients in the early stages of OC using T2 maps may provide valuable insight into the pathogenesis of this condition. © 2016 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res

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