Objective—To evaluate the ability of signal attenuation–based quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (QMRI) to estimate subchondral bone mineral density (BMD) as assessed via quantitative computed tomography (QCT) in osteoarthritic joints of horses.
Sample Population—20 metacarpophalangeal joints from 10 horse cadavers.
Procedures—Magnetic resonance (MR) images (dorsal and transverse T1-weighted gradient recalled echo [GRE] and dorsal T2*-weighted GRE fast imaging employing steady-state acquisition [T2*-FIESTA]) and transverse single-slice computed tomographic (CT) images of the joints were acquired. Magnetic resonance signal intensity (SI) and CT attenuation were quantified in 6 regions of interest (ROIs) in the subchondral bone of third metacarpal condyles. Separate ROIs were established in the air close to the joint and used to generate corrected ratios and SIs. Computed tomographic attenuation was corrected by use of a calibration phantom to obtain a K2HPO4-equivalent density of bone. Correlations between QMRI performed with different MR imaging sequences and QCT measurements were evaluated. The intraobserver repeatability of ROI measurements was tested for each modality.
Results—Measurement repeatability was excellent for QCT (R2 = 98.3%) and QMRI (R2 = 98.8%). Transverse (R2 = 77%) or dorsal (R2 = 77%) T1-weighted GRE and QCT BMD measurements were negatively correlated, as were dorsal T2*-FIESTA and QCT (R2 = 80%) measurements. Decreased bone SI during MR imaging linearly reflected increased BMD.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of this ex vivo study suggested that signal attenuation–based QMRI was a reliable, clinically applicable method for indirect estimation of subchondral BMD in osteoarthritic metacarpophalangeal joints of horses.