While advances in healthcare have extended the lifespan in the United States, these advances have also meant that nearly all Americans will face the debilitating effects of osteoarthritis (OA) at some point in life. The lack of progress in developing successful therapeutic agents for OA has forced new approaches to researching this degenerative process. These new approaches appreciate that it is important to investigate not just articular cartilage, but the interactions which occur between all joint structures in patients with OA. Investments in longitudinal studies such as the NIH supported Osteoarthritis Initiative aim to develop multifaceted databases to track the progression of OA in large subject populations in hopes that this data will be useful in developing and testing new hypotheses for unraveling the disease. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging methods serve as important surrogate biomarkers of disease progression in longitudinal OA studies such as the Osteoarthritis Initiative. However, given the constraints of cost and patient tolerance, MR examination times in OA research studies are generally limited to only 30 to 45 minutes. The need to assess all joint structures, known as "whole-organ" joint assessment and common to most OA imaging-based research, requires that a disproportionate amount of the imaging time be devoted to acquiring several morphologic imaging scans in different imaging planes. This results in limited time to incorporate physiologic imaging techniques into research protocols which can detect changes in cartilage composition prior to cartilage volume loss. The prospects for slowing or even stopping early OA are generally seen to be much stronger than slowing established OA, and thus the emphasis on physiologic imaging methods is growing. This project aims to develop a high resolution imaging tool for rapid "whole organ" assessment and cartilage volume analysis of the knee joint for use in OA research studies. The acceleration of morphologic joint imaging will allow sufficient time to incorporate physiologic cartilage imaging methods into research protocols, reduce research costs, and improve subject comfort.
In this project, we will develop a rapid MR imaging method for evaluating all joint structures which can cause pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Our single imaging method will replace multiple imaging methods currently used in OA research studies. Our new technology will improve patient comfort, reduce research costs, and allow sufficient time to add new imaging techniques sensitive to early cartilage breakdown into research protocols...
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