News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | June 11, 2020

Improved MRI Scans Could Aid in Development of Arthritis Treatments

The thickness of the cartilage covering the end of each bone is colour-coded, with red areas denoting thinner cartilage and green-blue areas denoting thicker cartilage. The technique helps locate where arthritis is affecting the joint over time.

The thickness of the cartilage covering the end of each bone is colour-coded, with red areas denoting thinner cartilage and green-blue areas denoting thicker cartilage. The technique helps locate where arthritis is affecting the joint over time. Image courtesy of the University of Cambridge

June 11, 2020 — An algorithm that analyzes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images and automatically detects small changes in knee joints over time could be used in the development of new treatments for arthritis.

A team of engineers, radiologists and physicians, led by the University of Cambridge, developed the algorithm, which builds a three-dimensional model of an individual's knee joint in order to map where arthritis is affecting the knee. It then automatically creates 'change maps' which not only tell researchers whether there have been significant changes during the study but allow them to locate exactly where these are.

There are few effective treatments for arthritis, and the technique could be a considerable boost to efforts to develop and monitor new therapies for the condition. The results are reported in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK. It develops when the articular cartilage that coats the ends of bones and allows them to glide smoothly over each other at joints, is worn down, resulting in painful, immobile joints. Currently there is no recognised cure and the only definitive treatment is surgery for artificial joint replacement.

Osteoarthritis is normally identified on an X-ray by a narrowing of the space between the bones of the joint due to a loss of cartilage. However, X-rays do not have enough sensitivity to detect subtle changes in the joint over time.

"We don't have a good way of detecting these tiny changes in the joint over time in order to see if treatments are having any effect," said James MacKay, M.D., from Cambridge's Department of Radiology, and the study's lead author. "In addition, if we're able to detect the early signs of cartilage breakdown in joints, it will help us understand the disease better, which could lead to new treatments for this painful condition."

The current study builds on earlier work from the same team, who developed an algorithm to monitor subtle changes in arthritic joints in computed tomography (CT) scans. Now, they are using similar techniques for MRI, which provides more complete information about the composition of tissue - not just information about the thickness of cartilage or bone.

MRI is already widely used to diagnose joint problems, including arthritis, but manually labelling each image is time-consuming, and may be less accurate than automated or semi-automated techniques when detecting small changes over a period of months or years.

"Thanks to the engineering expertise of our team, we now have a better way of looking at the joint," said MacKay.

The technique MacKay and his colleagues from Cambridge's Department of Engineering developed, called 3D cartilage surface mapping (3D-CaSM), was able to pick up changes over a period of six months that weren't detected using standard X-ray or MRI techniques.

The researchers tested their algorithm on knee joints from bodies that had been donated for medical research, and a further study with human participants between 40 and 60 years old. All of the participants suffered from knee pain, but were considered too young for a knee replacement. Their joints were then compared with people of a similar age with no joint pain.

"There's a certain degree of deterioration of the joint that happens as a normal part of aging, but we wanted to make sure that the changes we were detecting were caused by arthritis," said MacKay. "The increased sensitivity that 3D-CaSM provides allows us to make this distinction, which we hope will make it a valuable tool for testing the effectiveness of new therapies."

The software is freely available to download and can be added to existing systems. MacKay says that the algorithm can easily be added to existing workflows and that the training process for radiologists is short and straightforward.

As part of a separate study funded by the European Union, the researchers will also be using the algorithm to test whether it can predict which patients will need a knee replacement, by detecting early signs of arthritis.

For more information: www.cam.ac.uk

Related Content

A lung CT of a COVID-19 patient, showing ground-glass opacities in the lung from COVID pneumonia. Image courtesy of John Kim.

A lung CT of a COVID-19 patient, showing ground-glass opacities in the lung from COVID pneumonia. Image courtesy of John Kim.

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 09, 2020
July 9, 2020 — With increased lung CT exam paradigms being used in the current...

Image courtesy of GE Healthcare

Feature | Mobile C-Arms | July 08, 2020 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Moblie C-arms have seen several advances over the past de
 Many patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remain unresponsive after surviving critical illness. Investigators led by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) now describe a patient with severe COVID-19 who, despite prolonged unresponsiveness and structural brain abnormalities, demonstrated functionally intact brain connections and weeks later he recovered the ability to follow commands

Getty Images

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 08, 2020
July 8, 2020 — Many patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (...
Fujifilm’s Sonosite SII POC ultrasound system helps to keep crowded areas clearer with a small ultrasound footprint.

Fujifilm’s Sonosite SII POC ultrasound system helps to keep crowded areas clearer with a small ultrasound footprint.

Feature | Ultrasound Imaging | July 07, 2020 | By Joan Toth
With the miniaturization of technology, improved ease of use, lower system cost, increased portability and greater ac
A patient implanted with the Axonics System can undergo MRI examinations safely with radio frequency (RF) Transmit Body or Head Coil under the conditions outlined in the Axonics MRI Conditional Guidelines.

A patient implanted with the Axonics System can undergo MRI examinations safely with radio frequency (RF) Transmit Body or Head Coil under the conditions outlined in the Axonics MRI Conditional Guidelines.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | July 02, 2020
July 2, 2020 — Axonics Modulation Technologies, Inc., a medical technology company that has developed and is commerci
This data represents wave 2 of a QuickPoLL survey conducted in partnership with an imagePRO panel created by The MarkeTech Group (TMTG), regarding the effects of COVID-19 on their business

Getty Images

Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 01, 2020 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
A 3-D ultrasound system provides an effective, noninvasive way to estimate blood flow that retains its accuracy across different equipment, operators and facilities, according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

Volume flow as a function of color flow gain (at a single testing site). For each row the color flow c-plane and the computed volume flow are shown as a function of color flow gain. The c-plane is shown for four representative gain levels, whereas the computed volume flow is shown for 12–17 steps across the available gain settings. Flow was computed with (solid circles on the graphs) and without (hollow circles on the graphs) partial volume correction. Partial volume correction accounts for pixels that are only partially inside the lumen. Therefore, high gain (ie, blooming) does not result in overestimation of flow. Systems 1 and 2 converge to true flow after the lumen is filled with color pixel. System 3 is nearly constant regarding gain and underestimates the flow by approximately 17%. Shown are mean flow estimated from 20 volumes, and the error bars show standard deviation. Image courtesy of the journal Radiology

News | Ultrasound Imaging | July 01, 2020
July 1, 2020 — A 3-D ultrasound