Optimization of MR Signal Contrast of the Lumbar Cartilaginous Endplates Using Ultra-Short TE
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The ultra-short TE (UTE) technique has been recently used to investigate lumbar cartilaginous endplates (CEPs). However, parameters of UTE have not been investigated, especially optimal second TE is unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of an optimal second TE with UTE for visualizing CEPs. The subjects included 20 volunteers without LBP who did not undergo lumbar spine surgery. A UTE sequence with fat suppression was used, and TEs were set at 0.16 ms as first TE, and 4.6, 9.2, 13.8, 18.2 ms as second TE. Analyzed images subtracted each second TE image from first TE image. Two researchers measured contrast ratio (CR) between CEPs and vertebral bodies (VBs), intervertebral discs (IVDs). ICCs between two researchers were calculated for CRs (r = 0.924, 0.939). CR between CEP and VB of 13.8 and 18.4 ms was significantly higher than that of other TEs (p < 0.01). CR between CEP and IVD of 9.2 and 13.8 ms was significantly higher than that of other TEs (p < 0.01, 0.05). CEPs were evaluated using subtraction images obtained with UTE. The first TE was 0.16 ms, the optimal second TE was suggested to be 13.8 ms for evaluating human CEPs.
We thank Dr. Hiroshi Nagahama, PhD and Mr. Yuki Sakurai for their help regarding patient treatment and MRI and the volunteers for their participation in this study.
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