Utility of Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Articular Cartilage Assessment in Clinical Scenarios

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Oulu University Hospital, lecture hall 8

Topic of the dissertation

Utility of Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Articular Cartilage Assessment in Clinical Scenarios

Doctoral candidate

Licentiate of Medicine Sami Lehtovirta

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Health Sciences and Technology

Subject of study

Medical Science


Professor Carl Johan Tiderius, University of Lund


Professor Miika Nieminen, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital

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Utility of new magnetic resonance imaging techniques in detection of osteoarthritis

The study evaluated the ability of specific quantitative magnetic resonance imaging methods to detect early changes in the composition of articular cartilage. These imaging methods revealed alterations in the structure of articular cartilage in real-life clinical patients. Differences were observed even in situations where traditional magnetic resonance imaging could not detect changes. In the future, it is possible that utilizing these methods could enable the detection of early changes in osteoarthritis before symptomatic manifestations occur.

Approximately 7% of the world's population is estimated to suffer from osteoarthritis. Despite its prevalence, the precise pathogenesis of osteoarthritis remains unknown. Consequently, treatment options are limited, although several drugs influencing osteoarthritis development are in development. Currently, clinicians cannot diagnose early molecular-level changes in osteoarthritis that could justify the initiation of medication in the future. Specific quantitative magnetic resonance imaging methods have been developed for this purpose, enabling the detection of early molecular-level changes in articular cartilage. This dissertation investigates the applicability of these measurable imaging methods in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis in real-life clinical patients.

First, patients with a genetic mutation causing bone fragility were compared with healthy controls. The study found that the measured values strongly indicated better cartilage quality in patients with the genetic mutation compared to the controls. Similar differences were not observed with conventional magnetic resonance imaging. Second, the quality of cartilage was studied in ankle fracture patients shortly after the fracture. They were compared to healthy controls. Significant differences were found in the measured values between the cartilage of healthy and fractured ankles, without clear differences in conventional magnetic images. However, the clinical significance of this finding is still somewhat unclear, as similar research has not been conducted previously. The third investigation studied morbidly obese patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery. The knee cartilage and osteoarthritis symptoms of these individuals were evaluated over a 12-month follow-up. The study found that symptom relief from osteoarthritis was greater with more substantial weight loss. Interestingly, cartilage condition did not improve proportionally; instead, cartilage seemed to benefit most from moderate weight loss. This may possibly be explained by changes in joint biomechanics and bone density; however, the topic still requires further research.
Last updated: 6.2.2024