AJSM April 2017 Podcast: Effects of Surgical Factors on Cartilage Can Be Detected Using Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

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Quantitative magnetic resonance (qMR) can be used to measure macromolecules in tissues and is a potential method of observing early cartilage changes in the development of posttraumatic osteoarthritis. We hypothesized that specific patient and surgical factors affecting cartilage matrix composition after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR) can be detected using T1ρ and T2 relaxation times. Our purpose was to demonstrate this ability in a multicenter feasibility study.

We concluded that prolonged relaxation times in multiple regions demonstrate how the injury affects the entire joint after an ACL tear. Changes observed in the uninjured knee may be caused by increased loading during rehabilitation, especially in the patellofemoral articular cartilage and distal femur. Relaxation times in the tibial regions may be predictive of patient symptoms at 6 months. These same regions are affected by surgical timing as early as 30 days after injury, but this may partially be reflective of the severity of the preoperative injury and the choice of treatment of meniscal tears.

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