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A reproducibility study of knee cartilage volume and thickness values derived by fully automatic segmentation based on three-dimensional dual-echo in steady state data from 1.5 T and 3 T magnetic resonance imaging

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Magnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine Aims and scope Submit manuscript



To evaluate the repeatability of cartilage volume and thickness values at 1.5 T MRI using a fully automatic cartilage segmentation method and reproducibility of the method between 1.5 T and 3 T data.


The study included 20 knee joints from 10 healthy subjects with each subject having undergone double-knee MRI. All knees were scanned at 1.5 T and 3 T MR scanners using a three-dimensional (3D) high-resolution dual-echo in steady state (DESS) sequence. Cartilage volume and thickness of 21 subregions were quantified using a fully automatic cartilage segmentation research application (MR Chondral Health, version 3.0, Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen, Germany). The volume and thickness values derived from fully automatically computed segmentation masks were analyzed for the scan–rescan data from the same volunteers. The accuracy of the automatic segmentation of the cartilage in 1.5 T images was evaluated by the dice similarity coefficient (DSC) and Hausdorff distance (HD) using the manually corrected segmentation as a reference. The volume and thickness values calculated from 1.5 T and 3 T were also compared.


No statistically significant differences were found for cartilage thickness or volume across all subregions between the scan–rescanned data at 1.5 T (P > 0.05). The mean DSC between the fully automatic and manually corrected knee cartilage segmentation contours at 1.5 T was 0.9946. The average value of HD was 2.41 mm. Overall, there was no statistically significant difference in the cartilage volume or thickness in most-subregions between the two field strengths (P > 0.05) except for the medial region of femur and tibia. Bland–Altman plot and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) showed high consistency between results obtained based on same and different scanning sequences.


The cartilage segmentation software had high repeatability for DESS images obtained from the same device. In addition, the overall reproducibility of the images obtained from equipment of two different field strengths was satisfactory.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Authors and Affiliations



Study conception and design: JZ, RZ, XZ; acquisition of data: PZ; analysis and interpretation of data: CR, JL, LB; drafting of manuscript: RZ, XZ; critical revision: all authors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jian Zhao.

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Conflict of interest

Xiaoyue Zhou is an employee of Siemens Healthineers Ltd., Shanghai, China. Esther Raithel is an employee of Siemens Healthcare GmbH, Erlangen, Germany. The other authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical standards

The trial was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (as revised in 2013). The study was approved by the Medical Ethics Center of the Third Hospital of Hebei Medical University and informed consent was taken from all individual participants. This study involves human participants, all of whom have signed informed consent forms.

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Zhang, R., Zhou, X., Raithel, E. et al. A reproducibility study of knee cartilage volume and thickness values derived by fully automatic segmentation based on three-dimensional dual-echo in steady state data from 1.5 T and 3 T magnetic resonance imaging. Magn Reson Mater Phy 37, 69–82 (2024).

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