T1rho, T2 and focal knee cartilage abnormalities in physically active and sedentary healthy subjects versus early OA patients—a 3.0-Tesla MRI study
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(1) To assess the degree of focal cartilage abnormalities in physically active and sedentary healthy subjects as well as in patients with early osteoarthritis (OA). (2) To determine the diagnostic value of T2 and T1rho measurements in identifying asymptomatic physically active subjects with focal cartilage lesions. Thirteen asymptomatic physically active subjects, 7 asymptomatic sedentary subjects, and 17 patients with mild OA underwent 3.0-T MRI of the knee joint. T1rho and T2 values, cartilage volume and thickness, as well as the WORMS scores were obtained. Nine out of 13 active healthy subjects had focal cartilage abnormalities. T1rho and T2 values in active subjects with and without focal cartilage abnormalities differed significantly (p < 0.05). T1rho and T2 values were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in early OA patients compared to healthy subjects. T1rho measurements were superior to T2 in differentiating OA patients from healthy subjects, yet T1rho was moderately age-dependent. (1) Active subjects showed a high prevalence of focal cartilage abnormalities and (2) active subjects with and without focal cartilage abnormalities had different T1rho and T2 composition of cartilage. Thus, T1rho and T2 could be a parameter suited to identify active healthy subjects at higher risk for developing cartilage pathology.