The value of MR T2* measurements in normal and osteoarthritic knee cartilage: effects of age, sex, and location

  • Ping-Huei Tsai
  • Chin-Chean Wong
  • Wing P. ChanEmail author
  • Tung-Wu Lu



Our aim was to investigate the role of age, sex, and location on MR T2* values of the knee cartilage in asymptomatic controls and patients with osteoarthritis (OA).


A total of 100 participants, including 40 with OA and 60 asymptomatic controls, were enrolled in this study. Patients with OA were compared to age- (≥ 41 years old) and sex-matched controls. Controls were divided by age (aged 21–40 years, 41–60, ≥ 61). T2* values were acquired using a T2*-weighted fast gradient-echo sequence and a 1.5-T MRI scanner. T2* values of the femoral and tibial cartilages at the weight-bearing areas were obtained for comparisons.


The T2* values significantly increased with age and were significantly higher in the medial femoral cartilage (35.96 ± 4.06 and 31.85 ± 2.44 ms), medial tibial cartilage (30.95 ± 2.87 and 28.24 ± 1.74 ms), and lateral femoral cartilage (33.90 ± 3.15 and 31.51 ± 2.28 ms) in OA patients versus age- and sex-matched controls. Among OA patients, the T2* values for women exceed those in men in the medial femoral cartilage (37.59 ± 4.43 and 34.16 ± 2.63 ms) and medial tibial cartilage (32.17 ± 2.59 and 29.62 ± 2.53 ms; p < 0.01). Correlations were found between the Lequesne index and the T2* values for the medial femoral cartilage (r = 0.636, p < 0.001) and the medial tibial cartilage (r = 0.433, p = 0.005).


Cartilage T2* values tend to increase with age and are useful in assessing cartilage degeneration in early OA.

Key Points

Age, sex, and location have important effects on cartilage T2* values at the knee.

MR T2* measurements are useful toward assessing cartilage degeneration.

The medial femoral and tibial cartilage T2* values correlate well with disease severity.


Cartilage Diagnostic imaging Knee Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Osteoarthritis 



Gradient-recalled echo


Magnetic resonance




Region of interest





This study was funded by grant (no. 104SWF-08) at Taipei Medical University Wan Fang Hospital Inter-institute Research Project and grant (no. MOST102-2221-E-038-009-) at Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan.

Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Professor Wing P. Chan.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.

Statistics and biometry

No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper.

Informed consent

All subjects signed the study informed consent form for normal subjects.

Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board for OA patients.

Ethical approval

Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.


• Prospective (normal subjects)/retrospective (OA patients)

• Observational

• Performed at one institution


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Imaging and Radiological SciencesChung Shan Medical UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Medical ImagingChung Shan Medical University HospitalTaichungTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Orthopedics, Shuang-Ho HospitalTaipei Medical UniversityNew Taipei CityTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Orthopedics, School of Medicine, College of MedicineTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of Radiology, Wan Fang HospitalTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  6. 6.Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, College of MedicineTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  7. 7.Institute of Biomedical EngineeringNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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