Skeletal Radiology

, Volume 45, Issue 12, pp 1649–1660 | Cite as

Ex vivo quantitative multiparametric MRI mapping of human meniscus degeneration

  • Sven NebelungEmail author
  • Markus Tingart
  • Thomas Pufe
  • Christiane Kuhl
  • Holger Jahr
  • Daniel Truhn
Scientific Article



To evaluate the diagnostic performance of T1, T1ρ, T2, T2*, and UTE-T2* (ultrashort-echo time-enhanced T2*) mapping in the refined graduation of human meniscus degeneration with histology serving as standard-of-reference.

Materials and methods

This IRB-approved intra-individual comparative ex vivo study was performed on 24 lateral meniscus body samples obtained from 24 patients undergoing total knee replacement. Samples were assessed on a 3.0-T MRI scanner using inversion-recovery (T1), spin-lock multi-gradient-echo (T1ρ), multi-spin-echo (T2) and multi-gradient-echo (T2* and UTE-T2*) sequences to determine relaxation times of quantitative MRI (qMRI) parameters. Relaxation times were calculated on the respective maps, averaged to the entire meniscus and to its zones. Histologically, samples were analyzed on a four-point score according to Williams (0-III). QMRI results and Williams (sub)scores were correlated using Spearman’s ρ, while Williams grade-dependent differences were assessed using Kruskal–Wallis and Dunn’s tests. Sensitivities and specificities in the detection of intact (Williams grade [WG]-0) and severely degenerate meniscus (WG-II-III) were calculated.


Except for T2*, significant increases in qMRI parameters with increasing Williams grades were observed. T1, T1ρ, T2, and UTE-T2* exhibited high sensitivity and variable specificity rates. Significant marked-to-strong correlations were observed for these parameters with each other, with histological WGs and the subscores tissue integrity and cellularity.


QMRI mapping holds promise in the objective evaluation of human meniscus. Although sufficient discriminatory power of T1, T1ρ, T2, and UTE-T2* was only demonstrated for the histological extremes, these data may aid in the future MRI-based parameterization and quantification of human meniscus degeneration.


Meniscus Degeneration Quantitative MRI Histology MRI parameters 



Spearman’s correlation coefficient




Extracellular matrix


Matrix organization and alignment


Magnetic resonance imaging




Quantitative MRI


Matrix staining intensity


Surface and matrix integrity


Ultrashort echo time-enhanced


Williams grade


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© ISS 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Nebelung
    • 1
    Email author
  • Markus Tingart
    • 2
  • Thomas Pufe
    • 3
  • Christiane Kuhl
    • 1
  • Holger Jahr
    • 2
  • Daniel Truhn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic and Interventional RadiologyAachen University HospitalAachenGermany
  2. 2.Department of OrthopaedicsAachen University HospitalAachenGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Anatomy and Cell BiologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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