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J Orthop Res. 2013 Dec;31(12):2006-12. doi: 10.1002/jor.22449. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Histological confirmation and biological significance of cartilage canals demonstrated using high field MRI in swine at predilection sites of osteochondrosis.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota.


Cartilage canal vessels in epiphyseal cartilage have a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of osteochondrosis/osteochondritis dissecans. The present study aimed to validate high field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to visualize these vessels in young pigs. Osteochondral samples from the distal femur and distal humerus (predilection sites of osteochondrosis) of piglets were imaged post-mortem: (1) using susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) in an MRI scanner, followed by histological evaluation; and (2) after barium perfusion using µCT, followed by clearing techniques. In addition, both stifle joints of a 25-day-old piglet were imaged in vivo using SWI and gadolinium enhanced T1-weighted MRI, after which distal femoral samples were harvested and evaluated using µCT and histology. Histological sections were compared to corresponding MRI slices, and three-dimensional visualizations of vessels identified using MRI were compared to those obtained using µCT and to the cleared specimens. Vessels contained in cartilage canals were identified using MRI, both ex vivo and in vivo; their locations matched those observed in the histological sections, µCT images, and cleared specimens of barium-perfused tissues. The ability to visualize cartilage canal blood vessels by MRI, without using a contrast agent, will allow future longitudinal studies to evaluate their role in developmental orthopedic disease.

© 2013 Orthopaedic Research Society.


MRI; cartilage; cartilage canal; osteochondrosis; susceptibility weighted imaging

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