Quantitative MRI analysis of craniofacial bone marrow in patients with sickle cell disease

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Assessment of bone marrow is most commonly performed qualitatively in the spine or other large long bones. The craniofacial bones are less ideal for bone marrow analysis because of the relatively small bone marrow volume. Because patients with SCD often undergo repeated brain imaging to evaluate for cerebral vaso-occlusive disease, quantitative assessment of craniofacial bone marrow is a reasonable possibility in these patients. The purpose of this study was to investigate specific sickle cell disease changes in craniofacial bone marrow quantitatively by analyzing T1, T2, and secular-T2 relaxation times and volume with the use of quantitative MRI. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fourteen patients with SCD and 17 control subjects were imaged with the mixed TSE pulse sequence at 1.5T. The craniofacial bones were manually segmented by using 3D Slicer to generate bone marrow volumes and to provide T1, T2, and secular-T2 relaxation times. RESULTS: All subjects exhibited a bimodal T1 histogram. In the SCD group, there was a decrease in amplitude in the first T1 peak and an increase in amplitude in the second T1 peak. The first T1 peak showed a significant increase in relaxation time compared with control subjects (P < .0001), whereas there was no significant difference in the second T1 peak. T2 and secular-T2 relaxation times were significantly shorter in the SCD group (T2, P < .0001; secular-T2, P < .0001). Increasing numbers of blood transfusions resulted in a decrease in T2 and secular-T2 times. Patients with SCD exhibited a larger bone marrow volume compared with control subjects, even after standardization. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with SCD exhibited significant quantifiable changes in the craniofacial bone marrow because of failure of red-to-yellow marrow conversion and iron deposition that can be identified by qMRI relaxometry and volumetry. Both qMRI relaxometry and volumetry may be used as noninvasive tools for assessment of disease severity.




Elias, E. J., Liao, J. H., Jara, H., Watanabe, M., Nadgir, R. N., Sakai, Y., … Sakai, O. (2013). Quantitative MRI analysis of craniofacial bone marrow in patients with sickle cell disease. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 34(3), 622–627. https://doi.org/10.3174/ajnr.A3240

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