The reproducibility of measuring trabecular bone parameters using a commercially available high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging approach: A pilot study
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Bone imaging is currently the best non-invasive way to assess changes to bone associated with aging or chronic disease. However, common imaging techniques such as dual energy x-ray absorptiometry are associated with limitations. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a radiation-free technique that can measure bone microarchitecture. However, published MRI bone assessment protocols use specialized MRI coils and sequences and therefore have limited transferability across institutions. We developed a protocol on a Siemens 3 Tesla MRI machine, using a commercially available coil (Siemens 15 CH knee coil), and manufacturer supplied sequences to acquire images at the tibia. We tested the reproducibility of the FSE and the GE Axial sequences and hypothesized that both would generate reproducible trabecular bone parameters. Eight healthy adults (age 25.5 ± 5.4 years) completed three measurements of each MRI sequence at the tibia. Each of the images was processed for 8 different bone parameters (such as volumetric bone volume fraction). We computed the coefficient of variation (CV) and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) to assess reproducibility and reliability. Both sequences resulted in trabecular parameters that were reproducible (CV <5% for most) and reliable (ICC >80% for all). Our study is one of the first to report that a commercially available MRI protocol can result in reproducible data, and is significant as MRI may be an accessible method to measure bone microarchitecture in clinical or research environments. This technique requires further testing, including validation and evaluation in other populations.