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Skeletal Radiol. 1994 Aug;23(6):429-37.

High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging of arthritic pathology in the rat knee.

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  • 1Herchel Smith Laboratory for Medicinal Chemistry, Cambridge University Forvie Site, UK.


High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used to visualise the changes that occur in both soft tissue and bone during antigen-induced, monoarticular arthritis (AIMA) of the rat knee. Extensive optimisation studies were performed in order to minimise the time of the experiments and to maximise both the signal-to-noise ratio and the contrast in the MR images. The study was cross-sectional rather than longitudinal and at each of the 13 time points studied during the progression of the disease, corresponding X-radiographs and histological sections were obtained. Interpretation of the spin echo MR images was aided by the use of chemical shift-selective imaging, magnetisation transfer contrast and relaxation time experiments, as well as by correlation with the histology and X-radiography data. The MR images clearly show invasion of the synovium by an inflammatory pannus which spreads over the articular cartilage and invades the bone, leading to erosion and later remodelling. Two distinct types of bony erosion were observed: focal erosions, especially at the margins of the joint, and subchondral erosions. It is concluded that MRI provides a sensitive, non-invasive method for investigating both early-stage inflammatory changes and late-stage bony changes in the knee joints of the arthritic rat.

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