In Vivo Assessment of Human Lumbar Disc Degeneration
Balderston R, Elliott D, Reddy R, Auerbach J, Johannessen W, Dolinskas C, Borthakur A
Ten asymptomatic subjects between 40-60 years of age were imaged on a 1.5T Siemens clinical MR scanner using the spine array coil. Average T1&[rho] was measured from maps generated from a series of spin-locked MR images. T1&[rho] values were measured in region of interest in the center of the nucleus pulposus and the degenerative grade of each lumbar disc was assessed from conventional T2-weighted images according to the Pfirmann classification system. T1&[rho] relaxation correlated significantly with disc degeneration (r=-0.47, p<0.01) and the values were consistent with a previous cadaveric study, in which correlation between T1&[rho] and proteoglycan content was demonstrated. This suggests a potential utility of T1&[rho] MRI as a non-invasive assessment of early disc degeneration in vivo.