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Magn Reson Med. 2010 May;63(5):1193-200. doi: 10.1002/mrm.22362.

In vivo 3.0-tesla magnetic resonance T1rho and T2 relaxation mapping in subjects with intervertebral disc degeneration and clinical symptoms.

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Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.


The purpose of this study is (1) to determine the correlation between T(1rho) and T(2) and degenerative grade in intervertebral discs using in vivo 3.0-T MRI, and (2) to determine the association between T(1rho) and T(2) and clinical findings as quantified by the SF-36 Questionnaire and Oswestry Disability Index. Sixteen subjects participated in this study, and each completed SF-36 and Oswestry Disability Index questionnaires. MRI T(1rho) and T(2) mapping was performed to determine T(1rho) (77 discs) and T(2) (44 discs) in the nucleus of the intervertebral disc, and T(2)-weighted images were acquired for Pfirrmann grading of disc degeneration. Pfirrmann grade was correlated with both T(1rho) (r = -0.84; P < 0.01) and T(2) (r = -0.61; P < 0.01). Mixed-effects models demonstrate that only T(1rho) was associated with clinical questionnaires (R(2) (SF-36) = 0.55, R(2) (O.D.I.) = 0.56; P < 0.05). Although the averaged values of T(1rho) and T(2) were significantly correlated, they presented differences in spatial distribution and dynamic range, thus suggesting different sensitivities to tissue composition. This study suggests that T(1rho) may be sensitive to early degenerative changes (corroborating previous studies) and clinical symptoms in intervertebral disc degeneration.

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