Objective: To investigate changes in bone metabolism by positron emission tomography (PET), as well as spatial relationships between bone metabolism and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) quantitative markers of early cartilage degradation, in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)-reconstructed knees. Design: Both knees of 15 participants with unilateral reconstructed ACL tears and unaffected contralateral knees were scanned using a simultaneous 3.0T PET–MRI system following injection of 18F-sodium fluoride (18F-NaF). The maximum pixel standardized uptake value (SUVmax) in the subchondral bone and the average T2 relaxation time in cartilage were measured in each knee in eight knee compartments. We tested differences in SUVmax and cartilage T2 relaxation times between the ACL-injured knee and the contralateral control knee as well as spatial relationships between these bone and cartilage changes. Results: Significantly increased subchondral bone 18F-NaF SUVmax and cartilage T2 times were observed in the ACL-reconstructed knees (median [inter-quartile-range (IQR)]: 5.0 [5.8], 36.8 [3.6] ms) compared to the contralateral knees (median [IQR]: 1.9 [1.4], 34.4 [3.8] ms). A spatial relationship between the two markers was also seen. Using the contralateral knee as a control, we observed a significant correlation of r = 0.59 between the difference in subchondral bone SUVmax (between injured and contralateral knees) and the adjacent cartilage T2 (between the two knees) [P < 0.001], with a slope of 0.49 ms/a.u. This correlation and slope were higher in deep layers (r = 0.73, slope = 0.60 ms/a.u.) of cartilage compared to superficial layers (r = 0.40, slope = 0.43 ms/a.u.). Conclusions: 18F-NaF PET–MR imaging enables detection of increased subchondral bone metabolism in ACL-reconstructed knees and may serve as an important marker of early osteoarthritis (OA) progression. Spatial relationships observed between early OA changes across bone and cartilage support the need to study whole-joint disease mechanisms in OA.
- Bone remodeling
- Bone–cartilage interactions
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine