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3D Musculoskeletal Kinematics Using Dynamic MRI

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Until the early 1990s, the tools available to measure musculoskeletal motion were typically highly invasive. Thus, knowledge of musculoskeletal system dynamics was primarily derived through cadaver and modeling experiments. The rapid development of dynamic magnetic resonance (MR) imaging techniques changed this and opened vast new opportunities for the study of 3D musculoskeletal dynamics during volitional activities. Today, dynamic MR methodologies remain the only techniques that can noninvasively track in vivo 3D musculoskeletal movement.

One difficulty in applying these dynamic MR techniques to the study of musculoskeletal motion is the complex interplay of parameters that affect the spatial/temporal resolution, accuracy, and precision. The purpose of this chapter is to first provide an explanation of the fundamental principles behind two of these dynamic imaging techniques, cine and cine phase-contrast MR. Tagged cine MR is another technique that has been primarily used to track muscle motion and strain but will not be addressed. In doing so, this will create a platform for future experimental designs using dynamic MR. This will be followed by a review of the accuracies, the advantages, and disadvantages of the these dynamic MR methods. Finally, several previously published studies will be highlighted to provide an explanation of how these techniques can be applied and what main challenges must be considered for future experiments using dynamic MR.


  • MR
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Cine
  • Cine phase contrast
  • Fastcard
  • CPC
  • Fast-PC
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Kinematics
  • Strain
  • Moment arms
  • Tendon

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This work was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD, USA. This research was also made possible through the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program, a public-private partnership ( We thank Judith Welsh for her help and support in the work.

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Correspondence to Frances T. Sheehan .

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© 2018 This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply

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Sheehan, F.T., Smith, R.M. (2018). 3D Musculoskeletal Kinematics Using Dynamic MRI. In: Handbook of Human Motion. Springer, Cham.

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