, Volume 35, Issue 12, pp 903-908
Date: 01 Jun 2006

Magnetization transfer analysis of cartilage repair tissue: a preliminary study

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To evaluate the magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) after two different cartilage repair procedures, and to compare these data with the MTR of normal cartilage.

Design and patients

Twenty-seven patients with a proven cartilage defect were recruited: 13 were treated with autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) and 14 were treated with the microfracture technique (MFR). All patients underwent MRI examinations with MT-sequences before the surgical treatment, after 12 months (26 patients) and after 24 months (11 patients). Eleven patients received a complete follow-up study at all three time points (five of the ACI group and six of the MFR group). All images were transferred to a workstation to calculate MTR images. For every MT image set, different ROIs were delineated by two radiologists. Means were calculated per ROI type in the different time frames and in both groups of cartilage repair. The data were analyzed with unpaired t- and ANOVA tests, and by calculating Pearson’s correlation coefficient.


No significant differences were found in the MTR of fatty bone marrow, muscle and normal cartilage in the different time frames. There was a significant but small difference between the MTR of normal cartilage and the cartilage repair area after 12 months for both procedures. After 24 months, the MTR of ACI repaired cartilage (0.31±0.07) was not significantly different from normal cartilage MTR (0.34±0.05). The MTR of MFR repaired cartilage (0.28±0.02), still showed a significant difference from normal cartilage.


The differences between damaged and repaired cartilage MTR are too small to enable MT-imaging to be a useful tool for postoperative follow-up of cartilage repair procedures. There is, however, an evolution towards normal MTR-values in the cartilage repair tissue (especially after ACI repair).