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  • Author or Editor: Marion V. Branch x
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Objective—To validate use of magnetic resonance images (MRIs) for measurement of equine articular cartilage and subchondral bone thickness by comparison with measurements in histologic specimens.

Sample Population—32 cadaveric carpal joints from 16 horses.

Procedure—Magnetic resonance imaging was performed by use of 3-dimensional fast spoiled gradient echo (SPGR) and T2* 3-dimensional fast gradient echo (GRE) pulse sequences with and without fat saturation. Standard sites on the medial and lateral facets of the intermediate, radial, and third carpal bones were used for subchondral bone and articular cartilage thickness measurements. Digital image analysis software was used for MRI measurements 10 mm from the dorsal extent and perpendicular to the articular surface. Histomorphometric measurements of hyaline, calcified cartilage, and subchondral bone thickness were obtained at selected sites. Comparisons between histomorphometric and MRI measurements and between magnetic resonance pulse sequences were evaluated.

Results—There were significant correlations between GRE and SPGR and SPGR and histologic measurements of articular cartilage, with no significant difference between measurements and good agreement. When calcified cartilage was excluded from the histologic measurement, MRI measurements were significantly greater than histologic measurements. For subchondral bone thickness, there was significant correlation between GRE and SPGR but GRE was significantly greater than SPGR measurements. Histomorphometric and MRI measurements were strongly correlated and not significantly different.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Magnetic resonance imaging provides a good representation of cartilage and subchondral bone thickness, supporting its use in the study and clinical diagnosis of osteochondral structure and alteration. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1999–2005)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To investigate effects of age on thickness and morphologic characteristics of hyaline cartilage, calcified cartilage, total cartilage, and subchondral bone (SCB) in the equine tarsometatarsal joint.

Sample Population—23 tarsal joints from cadavers of 23 ponies (11 days to 25 years old); ponies were limited to pasture exercise and euthanatized for reasons not related to this study.

Procedures—Tarsi were allocated into several age groups (11 days old [n = 3], 6 to 9 months old [4], 2 to 3 years old [3], 6 to 8 years old [4], 11 to 17 years old [6], and 20 to 25 years old [3]). Histologic examination and histomorphometric measurement of hyaline cartilage, calcified cartilage, total cartilage, and SCB were performed at medial and lateral sites.

Results—A significant decrease was detected in thickness of hyaline cartilage and total cartilage with increasing age, but there was a significant increase in thickness of calcified cartilage and SCB with increasing age. Differences in chondrocyte and collagen fiber arrangement, tidemark, and osteochondral junction morphology were evident among age groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—These findings suggested that the various tissues of the osteochondral unit change in different ways with age. The response of each tissue may be related to relative response of the tissues to strains induced by pasture exercise but could have an influence on how the overall properties of the osteochondral unit change with age. The findings may also be suggestive of changes that develop prior to the onset of osteoarthritis.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research