Potential diagnostic role of the MRI-derived internal magnetic field gradient in calcaneus cancellous bone for evaluating postmenopausal osteoporosis at 3T

Mauro Rebuzzi, Vincenzo Vinicola, Franco Taggi, Umberto Sabatini, Felix W. Wehrli, Silvia Capuani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Bone mineral density (BMD) result has a low predictive value on patients' risk for future fractures. Thus, new approaches for examining patients at risk for developing osteoporosis would be desirable. Magnetic resonance (MR) investigations in cancellous bone have been shown to yield useful quantitative information on both trabecular-bone microstructure and bone marrow composition.This work was undertaken to address the hypothesis that the effective internal magnetic field gradient (IMFG), a new MR parameter, discriminates between healthy, osteopenic and osteoporotic postmenopausal women, classified on the basis of bone mineral density (BMD) criteria. The work builds on preliminary results indicating that IMFG, measured in trabecular-bone pores and quantified by spin-echo decay and water diffusion MR near the bone-bone marrow interface depends on both the bone marrow water rate of diffusion and the magnetic susceptibility difference (δX) between water and bone. Materials and methods: MR relaxometry, MR spectroscopy and diffusion-weighted MR imaging of the heel was performed in fifty-five women (mean age, 62.9±6.6years) at 3T. Moreover, in order to study the reproducibility of IMFG measurement, five young women (mean age 31.0±3.2years; age range, 28-36years) were scanned and rescanned. The study protocol was approved by the local Ethics Committee. Quantitative Computer Tomography (QCT) of the L1-L3 vertebral segments was performed to classify the postmenopausal women into three groups according to QCT BMD: healthy (n=8); osteopenic (n=25); and osteoporotic (n=22). In all subjects, BMD T-scores, marrow fat content (Mfc), T2*, apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and IMFG (estimated from the additional spin-echo decay due to diffusion of water in local magnetic field gradients), were assessed in the whole calcaneus as well as in three calcaneal subregions: subtalar, tuber calcaneus, and cavum calcaneus. Between-group comparisons to assess group differences and Pearson correlation analysis were performed. Short and long-term coefficients of variation (CVS and CVL, respectively) were evaluated in young subjects. Results: Reproducibility of the IMFG measurement was satisfactory. No significant difference was found in the IMFG measurement performed in both calcaneus and subtalar calcaneal region between the two separate sessions comprised of five young women. Mfc did not significantly differ between groups. The IMFG in the subtalar region was significantly different between all three groups (. P

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-163
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Cancellous bone
  • Internal magnetic field gradient
  • Magnetic susceptibility
  • Osteoporosis
  • T2
  • Water diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology


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