dGEMRIC (delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI of cartilage)

Last revised by Samuel Holly on 9 Apr 2021

dGEMRIC, or delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI of cartilage is a technique that can be used quantitatively to assess glycosaminoglycan content of cartilage or qualitatively to asses the overall structures of cartilage. The dGEMRIC protocol consists of a T1-mapping sequence. When the technique is adapted and applied to menisci it is called dGEMRIM.

At a time point after an intravenous or intra-articular negatively charged gadolinium agent is injected. The technique enhances areas of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) depletion. In healthy cartilage, the negatively charged contrast agent is repulsed by an intact layer of negatively charged GAGs. However in lesions where the GAG structure is disrupted, the contrast agent is allowed to diffuse into the cartilage shortening the T1 relaxation time of the lesion.

Protocols may vary slightly in terms of precise timing after injection and the exact type of T1 sequences, however, the literature on dGEMRIC used as a quantitative tool is established, with researchers using similar protocols. The technique has been used to asses diseases such as osteoarthritis 1,2 in terms of degeneration or repair of cartilage. The technique is also extremely useful to segment cartilage and menisci on MRI, therefore facilitating 3D modelling, whether through algorithms for 3D rendering or 3D printing.

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