Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar intervertebral discs
Human lumbar spine is composed of multiple tissue components that serve to provide structural stability and proper nutrition. Conventional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging techniques have been useful for evaluation of IVD, but inadequate at imaging the discovertebral junction and ligamentous tissues due primarily to their short T2 nature. Ultrashort time to echo (UTE) MR techniques acquire sufficient MR signal from these short T2 tissues, thereby allowing direct and quantitative evaluation. This article discusses the anatomy of the lumbar spine, MR techniques available for morphologic and quantitative MR evaluation of long and short T2 tissues of the lumbar spine, considerations for T2 relaxation modeling and fitting, and existing and new techniques for spine image post-processing, focusing on segmentation. This article will be of interest to radiologic and orthopaedic researchers performing lumbar spine imaging.