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The utility of HR-CT to study longitudinal changes in bone microarchitecture is limited by subject radiation exposure. Although MR is not subject to this limitation, it is limited both by patient movement that occurs during prolonged scanning at distal sites, and by the signal-to-noise ratio that is achievable for high-resolution images in a reasonable scan time at proximal sites. Recently, a novel MR-based technique, fine structure analysis (FSA) (Chase et al. Localised one-dimensional magnetic resonance spatial frequency spectroscopy. PCT/US2012/068284 2012, James and Chase Magnetic field gradient structure characteristic assessment using one-dimensional (1D) spatial frequency distribution analysis. 7932720 B2, 2011) has been developed which provides both high-resolution and fast scan times, but which generates at a designated set of spatial positions (voxels) a one-dimensional signal of spatial frequencies. Appendix 1 provides a brief introduction to FSA. This article describes an initial exploration of FSA for the rapid, non-invasive characterization of trabecular microarchitecture in a preclinical setting. For L4 vertebrae of sham and ovariectomized (OVX) rats, we compared FSA-generated metrics with those from CT datasets and from CT-derived histomorphometry parameters, trabecular number (Tb.N), bone volume density (BV/TV), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th) and trabecular separation (Tb.Sp). OVX caused a reduction of the higher frequency structures that correspond to a denser trabecular lattice, while increasing the preponderance of lower frequency structures, which correspond to a more open lattice. As one example measure, the centroid of the FSA spectrum (which we refer to as fSAcB) showed strong correlation in the same region with CT-derived histomorphometry values: Tb.Sp: r -0.63, p < 0.001; Tb.N: r 0.71, p < 0.001; BV/TV: r 0.64, p < 0.001, Tb.Th: r 0.44, p < 0.05. Furthermore, we found a 17.5% reduction in fSAcB in OVX rats (p < 0.0001). In a longitudinal study, FSA showed that the age-related increase in higher frequency structures was abolished in OVX rats, being replaced with a 78-194% increase in lower frequency structures (2.4-2.8 objects/mm range), indicating a more sparse trabecular lattice (p < 0.05). The MR-based fine structure analysis enables high-resolution, radiation-free, rapid quantification of bone structures in one dimension (the specific point and direction being chosen by the clinician) of the spine.

Original publication




Journal article


Calcif Tissue Int

Publication Date





506 - 520


Animals, Bone and Bones, Female, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley