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An MR-based technique for quantifying the deformation of articular cartilage during mechanical loading in an intact cadaver joint.

The objective of this study was to develop an MR-based technique for quantifying the deformation of articular cartilage during mechanical loading in an intact cadaver joint at high spatial and temporal resolution. A nonmetallic pressure device was constructed for applying loads of >1000 N to a femoro-patellar articulation within an extremity coil of a clinical 1.5 T MRI scanner. Digital image processing methods were used to determine the location- and time-dependent cartilage deformation in consecutive 2D fat-suppressed FLASH images. Additionally, three-dimensional reconstruction of the cartilage was performed from 3D fat-suppressed FLASH image data. During the first 10 min of static compression, thickness changes between 10 and 30% were observed. Thickness changes greater than 50% and volume changes of 20% were recorded after 3 h. The technique permits analysis of the load and time-dependent mechanical behavior of articular cartilage in its natural environment.

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