Bilateral assessment of cartilage with UTE-T2* quantitative MRI and associations with knee center of rotation following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Purpose: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear greatly increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA), even when patients undergo ACL reconstruction surgery (ACLR). Changes to walking kinematics following ACLR have been suggested to play a role in this degenerative path to post-traumatic OA by shifting the location of repetitive joint contact loads that occur during walking to regions of cartilage not conditioned for altered loads. Recent work has shown that changes to the average knee center of rotation during walking (KCOR) between 2 and 4 years after ACLR are associated with long term changes in patient reported outcomes at 8 years. Changes to KCOR result in changes to contact patterns between the femur and the tibial plateau. However, it is unknown if changes to this kinematic measure are reflected by changes to cartilage as early as 2 years after surgery. Ultrashort TE-enhanced T2* (UTE-T2*) mapping has been shown to be sensitive to subsurface changes occurring in deep articular cartilage early after ACL injury and over 2 years after ACLR that were not detectable by standard morphological MRI. Thus, the purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that side to side differences in KCOR correlate with side to side differences in UTE-T2* quantitative MRI (qMRI) in the central weight bearing regions of the medial and lateral tibial plateaus at 2 years following ACLR. Methods: Thirty-five human participants (18F, Age: 33.8±10.5 yrs, BMI: 24.1±3.3) with a history of unilateral ACL reconstruction (2.19±0.22 yrs post-surgery) and no other history of serious lower limb injury received bilateral examinations on a 3T MRI scanner. UTE-T2* maps were calculated via mono-exponential fitting on a series of T2*-weighted MR images acquired at eight TEs (32μs -16 ms, non-uniform echo spacing) using a radial out 3D cones acquisition. All subjects completed bilateral gait analysis. Medial-lateral (ML) and anterior-posterior (AP) coordinates of average KCOR during stance of walking were calculated for both knees. Side to side differences in KCOR were tested for correlations with side to side differences in mean full thickness UTE-T2* quantitative values in the central weight bearing regions of the medial and lateral tibial plateau using Pearson correlation coefficients. Results: There was a distribution in UTE-T2* values, with some subjects having higher UTE-T2* and some lower in the ACLR knee relative to the contralateral knee. A significant correlation (R=0.407, p=0.015, Figure 1A) was observed between UTE-T2* and the ML KCOR with a more lateral KCOR corresponding to higher values of UTE-T2* for the medial tibia. Similarly, for the lateral tibia, a lower UTE-T2* was correlated with a more posterior KCOR (R=0.363, p=0.032, Figure 1B). Significant correlations were not observed for UTE-T2* in the lateral tibia with the ML position of KCOR or for UTE-T2* in the medial tibia with the AP position of KCOR. Conclusions: The results of this study support the hypothesis that side to side differences in mean full thickness UTE-T2* qMRI correlate with side to side differences in knee kinematics at 2 years after ACLR. The finding that a more lateral KCOR in the ACLR knee correlates with UTE T2* values in the medial tibia that were higher than the contralateral side suggests that this kinematic change, which has been previously shown to result in more relative motion between the femur and tibia in the medial compartment, could be affecting subsurface matrix integrity, inducing changes detectable by UTE-T2* mapping. Additionally, the finding that a more posterior KCOR in the ACLR knee correlated with UTE-T2* values in the lateral tibia that were lower than the contralateral knee further suggests that the UTE-T2* metric may reflect early changes in cartilage health. When interpreted within the context of prior work showing that a posterior shift in KCOR from 2 to 4 years post-surgery correlated with improved clinical outcomes at 8 years, the observed lower UTE-T2* with a more posterior KCOR, which is reflective of improved quadriceps recruitment, suggests positive cartilage matrix properties. In spite of the limitations of this cross-sectional and exploratory study, and the difficulty accounting for changes in the contralateral knee, these results support future studies of the relationship between UTE-T2* and KCOR to provide new insight into predicting the risk for OA after ACLR.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Gait, Mechanical Engineering, Orthopedic Research, Sports Science

Novel Synthetic Biolubricant Reduces Friction in Previously-Worn Cartilage Evaluated by Long-Duration Torsional Friction Test

During osteoarthritis (OA), the lubricity of synovial fluid (SF) decreases. Therefore, we synthesized a novel, 2MDa polymer biolubricant (“2M TEG”) designed to augment the lubricating properties of SF in OA. This study’s aims were 1) to compare the abilities of 2M TEG and bovine synovial fluid (BSF) to reduce the coefficient of friction (COF) for previously “worn” cartilage specimens during a long-duration, torsional, wear test, and 2) using the same regimen, examine the “reversibility” of 2M TEG’s lubricity relative to BSF. For both aims, each wear test consisted of subjecting mated, bovine osteochondral plug pairs to 10,080 rotations. To accomplish Aim 1, plug pairs were subjected to three sequential wear regimens (Wear 1-3). Wear 1&2 were used to progressively “wear” the cartilage, and Wear 3 was used to test the efficacy of either BSF (n=4) or 2M TEG (n=4) on “worn” cartilage. For Aim 2, three pairs were subjected to four sequential wear regimens, where the lubricants were BSF, BSF, 2M TEG, and BSF, respectively. The relative percent reduction in COF between Wear 3 and Wear 2 in Aim 1 was greatest for 2M TEG, followed by BSF. For Aim 2, the mean percent reduction in COF for Wear 3 relative to Wear 2 was almost exactly the same as the mean increase in COF for Wear 4 relative to Wear 3. By reducing the COF for worn cartilage in OA joints, synthetic biolubricants such as 2M TEG could help minimize further cartilage wear and ameliorate the progression of OA.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Biotribology, Orthopedic Research

Are static and dynamic squatting activities comparable?

Background: Numerous studies have described 3D kinematics, 3D kinetics and electromyography (EMG) of the lower limb during quasi-static or dynamic squatting activities. However there is only little information on the comparison of these two squatting conditions. Only one study compared these activities in terms of 3D kinematics, but no information was available on 3D kinetics and EMG. The purpose of this study was to compare simultaneous recordings of 3D kinematics, 3D kinetics and EMG of the lower limb during quasi-static and fast dynamic squats. Methods: Ten subjects were recruited. 3D knee kinematics was recorded with a motion capture system, 3D kinetics was recorded with a force plate, and EMG of 8 muscles was recorded with surface electrodes. Each subject performed a quasi-static squat and several fast dynamic squats from 0° to 70° of knee flexion. Findings: Mean differences between quasi-static and dynamic squats were 1.6° for rotations, 1.8 mm for translations, 38 N ground reaction forces (2.1 % of subjects’ body weight), 6 Nm for torques, 13.0 mm for center of pressure, and 7 µV for EMG (6.3% of the maximum dynamic electromyographic activities ). Some significant differences (P < 0.05) were found in anterior-posterior translation, vertical forces and EMG. Interpretation: All differences found between quasi-static and fast dynamic squats can be considered small. 69.5% of the compared data were equivalent. In conclusion, this study show for the first time that quasi-static and dynamic squatting activities are comparable in terms of 3D kinematics, 3D kinetics and EMG.

Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Gait, Orthopedic Research, Posturography