Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and is characterized by the loss of articular cartilage in a joint. This eventually leads to painful bone on bone interactions. Since the loss of cartilage is permanent, the main treatment for this disease is pain management until a full joint replacement is needed. To test new potential treatments a consistent way to measure cartilage thickness is needed. The current standard used in the knee to represent cartilage uses joint space width measured from x-rays. This measurement is highly variable, and does not directly show cartilage. Unlike x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide direct visualization of soft tissues in the body, like cartilage. One specific MRI method called balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) provides useful contrast between cartilage and its surrounding tissues. This allows easy delineation of the cartilage for volume and thickness measurements. Using bSSFP has unique challenges, but can provide quantitative MR tissue parameter information in addition to volume and thickness measurements.Although bSSFP provides useful contrast, it is highly sensitive to variations in the main magnetic field. This results in dark bands of signal null across an image referred to as banding artifacts. There are a few new methods for mitigating this artifact. An analysis of banding artifact reduction methods is presented in this dissertation. The new methods are shown to be better than traditional methods at reducing banding artifact. However, they do not provide as of high signal to noise ratio as traditional methods in most cases. This analysis is helpful in obtaining artifact free images for volume and thickness measurements.Image distortion can be created when there is a magnetic susceptibility mismatch between bordering substances being imaged, like in the sinuses where air and body tissues meet. A map of the main magnetic field variation can be used to fix this distortion in post processing. A novel method for obtaining a map of the main magnetic field variation is developed using bSSFP in this dissertation. In cases where bSSFP contrast is desirable this map can be obtained with no additional scan time.A new way to sift out MR tissue parameters: T2, T1, and M0 is presented in this dissertation using bSSFP. This method obtains biomarkers that can potentially show the presence of Osteoarthritis before cartilage degeneration begins at the same time as anatomical images. Adjunct scans do not need to be run to get these extra parameters saving scan time. Unlike many adjunct scans, it is also resolution matched to the anatomical images.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





MRI, bSSFP, field map, T1, T2