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NMR Biomed. 2009 May;22(4):436-48. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1354.

High-resolution MRI of internal field diffusion-weighting in trabecular bone.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, New York University, 660 First Avenue, New York, New York 10016, USA. eric.sigmund@med.nyu.edu


Trabecular bone structure is known to play a crucial role in the overall strength, and thus fracture risk, of such areas of the skeleton as the vertebrae, spine, femur, tibiae, or radius. Several MR methods devoted to probing this structure depend upon the susceptibility difference between the solid bone matrix and the intervening fluid/marrow/fat, usually in the context of a linewidth (1/T(2)') measurement or mapping technique. A recently demonstrated new approach to this system involves using internal gradients to encode diffusion weighting, and extracting structural information (e.g., surface-to-volume ratio) from the resulting signal decay. This contrast method has been demonstrated in bulk measurements on cleaned, water-saturated bovine trabecular bone samples. In the present work, microscopic imaging (0.156 mm in-plane resolution) is performed in order to spatially resolve this contrast on the trabecular level, and confirm its interpretation for the bulk measurements. It is found that the local rate of decay due to diffusion in the internal field (DDIF) is maximal close to the trabecular surfaces. The overall decay rate in a lower resolution scan probes the abundance of these surfaces, and provides contrast beyond that found in conventional proton density weighted or T(1)-weighted imaging. Furthermore, a microscopic calculation of internal field distributions shows a qualitative distinction between the structural sensitivities of DDIF and T(2)'. DDIF contrast is highly localized around trabecular walls than is the internal field itself, making it a less sensitive but more specific measure of such important properties as trabecular number.

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