Quantative MRI predicts tendon mechanical behavior, collagen composition, and organization

Jennifer A. Zellers, Masoud Edalati, Jeremy D. Eekhoff, Reika McNish, Simon Y. Tang, Spencer P. Lake, Michael J. Mueller, Mary K. Hastings, Jie Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) measures have provided insights into the composition, quality, and structure-function of musculoskeletal tissues. Low signal-to-noise ratio has limited application to tendon. Advances in scanning sequences and sample positioning have improved signal from tendon allowing for evaluation of structure and function. The purpose of this study was to elucidate relationships between tendon qMRI metrics (T1, T2, T1ρ and diffusion tensor imaging [DTI] metrics) with tendon tissue mechanics, collagen concentration and organization. Sixteen human Achilles tendon specimens were collected, imaged with qMRI, and subjected to mechanical testing with quantitative polarized light imaging. T2 values were related to tendon mechanics [peak stress (rsp = 0.51, p = 0.044), equilibrium stress (rsp = 0.54, p = 0.033), percent relaxation (rsp = −0.55, p = 0.027), hysteresis (rsp = −0.64, p = 0.007), linear modulus (rsp = 0.67, p = 0.009)]. T1ρ had a statistically significant relationship with percent relaxation (r = 0.50, p = 0.048). Collagen content was significantly related to DTI measures (range of r = 0.56–0.62). T2 values from a single slice of the midportion of human Achilles tendons were strongest predictors of tendon tensile mechanical metrics. DTI diffusivity indices (mean diffusivity, axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity) were strongly correlated with collagen content. These findings build on a growing body of literature supporting the feasibility of qMRI to characterize tendon tissue and noninvasively measure tendon structure and function. Statement of Clinical Significance: Quantitative MRI can be applied to characterize tendon tissue and is a noninvasive measure that relates to tendon composition and mechanical behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2329-2338
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Achilles
  • diagnostic imaging
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • mechanical properties
  • musculoskeletal imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantative MRI predicts tendon mechanical behavior, collagen composition, and organization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this