Background: Patellar tendon (PT) microstructure integrity and microcirculation status play a crucial role in the progression of tendinopathy and tendon repair. Purpose: To assess the feasibility and robustness of stimulated-echo based diffusion-weighted MRI with readout-segmented echo-planar imaging (ste-RS-EPI) for noninvasive assessment of microstructure and microcirculation of human PT. Study Type: Prospective. Subjects: Fifteen healthy volunteers. Field Strength/Sequence: PT diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) were acquired with an ste-RS-EPI protocol on a 3T MRI scanner. Assessment: Subjects were positioned with their PT at the magic angle. DTI-derived parameters including axial diffusivity (AD), radial diffusivity (RD), mean diffusivity (MD), and fractional anisotropy (FA) were estimated with b-values of 0 and 800 s/mm2 and 12 diffusion directions. IVIM-derived parameters, fp, D* × fp, Vb, and D* × Vb were assessed in the central-third and the outer-two thirds of the PT with b-values of 0, 20, 30, 60, 80, 120, 200, 400, and 600 s/mm2 in three orthogonal directions. Statistical Tests: Paired t-tests were used to evaluate differences in IVIM parameters between the central-third and outer-two thirds regions of the patellar tendon. Paired t-tests and within-subject coefficient of variation were used to assess the intra- and intersession reproducibility of PT DTI and IVIM parameters. Results: DTI parameters for healthy PT were 1.54 ± 0.09 × 10-3 mm2/s, 1.01 ± 0.05 × 10-3 mm2/s, 1.18 ± 0.06 × 10-3 mm2/s, and 0.30 ± 0.04 for AD, RD, MD, and FA, respectively. Significantly higher (P < 0.05) IVIM parameters fp and D* × fp were observed in the outer-two thirds (6.1% ± 2.4% and 95.2 ± 49.6, respectively) compared with the central-third (3.8% ± 2.3% and 48.6 ± 35.2, respectively) of the PT. Data Conclusion: Diffusion MRI of PT with an ste-RS-EPI protocol is clinically feasible. Both DTI- and IVIM-derived parameters of the PT demonstrated good test–retest reproducibility and interrater reliability. Level of Evidence: 2. Technical Efficacy: Stage 1. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2019.
- patellar tendon
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging