High Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Calcaneus: Age-Related Changes in Trabecular Structure and Comparison with Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry Measurements
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A high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol, together with specialized image processing techniques, was applied to the quantitative measurement of age-related changes in calcaneal trabecular structure. The reproducibility of the technique was assessed and the annual rates of change for several trabecular structure parameters were measured. The MR-derived trabecular parameters were compared with calcaneal bone mineral density (BMD), measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in the same subjects. Sagittal MR images were acquired at 1.5 T in 23 healthy women (mean age: 49.3 ± 16.6 [SD]), using a three-dimensional gradient echo sequence. Image analysis procedures included internal gray-scale calibration, bone and marrow segmentation, and run-length methods. Three trabecular structure parameters, apparent bone volume (ABV/TV), intercept thickness (I.Th), and intercept separation (I.Sp) were calculated from the MR images. The short- and long-term precision errors (mean %CV) of these measured parameters were in the ranges 1–2% and 3–6%, respectively. Linear regression of the trabecular structure parameters vs. age showed significant correlation: ABV/TV (r2= 33.7%, P < 0.0037), I.Th (r2= 26.6%, P < 0.0118), I.Sp (r2= 28.9%, P < 0.0081). These trends with age were also expressed as annual rates of change: ABV/TV (− 0.52%/year), I.Th (−0.33%/year), and I.Sp (0.59%/year). Linear regression analysis also showed significant correlation between the MR-derived trabecular structure parameters and calcaneal BMD values. Although a larger group of subjects is needed to better define the age-related changes in trabecular structure parameters and their relation to BMD, these preliminary results demonstrate that high-resolution MRI may potentially be useful for the quantitative assessment of trabecular structure.
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