Objective: The outcome of arthroscopic treatment for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) depends on the preoperative status of the hip cartilage. Quantitative T2 can detect early biochemical cartilage changes, but its routine implementation is challenging. Furthermore, intrinsic T2 variability between patients makes it difficult to define a threshold to identify cartilage lesions. To address this, we propose a normalized T2-index as a new method to evaluate cartilage in FAI. Design: We retrospectively analyzed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of 18 FAI patients with arthroscopically confirmed cartilage defects. Cartilage T2 maps were reconstructed from multi-spin-echo 3-T data using the echo-modulation-curve (EMC) model-based technique. The central femoral cartilage, assumed healthy in early-stage FAI, was used as the normalization reference to define a T2-index. We investigated the ability of the T2-index to detect surgically confirmed cartilage lesions. Results: The average T2-index was 1.14 ± 0.1 and 1.13 ± 0.1 for 2 separated segmentations. Using T2-index >1 as the threshold for damaged cartilage, accuracy was 88% and 100% for the 2 segmentations. We found moderate intraobserver repeatability, although separate segmentations yielded comparable accuracy. Damaged cartilage could not be identified using nonnormalized average T2 values. Conclusions: This preliminary study confirms the importance of normalizing T2 values to account for interpatient variability and suggests that the T2-index is a promising biomarker for the detection of cartilage lesions in FAI. Future work is needed to confirm that combining T2-index with morphologic MRI and other quantitative biomarkers could improve cartilage assessment in FAI.
- articular cartilage
- quantitative MRI