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Biophysics - Biotechnology - Physics - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Transient and Microscale Deformations and Strains Measured under Exogenous Loading by Noninvasive Magnetic Resonance
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Author: Deva D. Chan et al.

by Deva D. Chan, Corey P. Neu

Characterization of spatiotemporal deformation dynamics and material properties requires non-destructive methods to visualize mechanics of materials and biological tissues. Displacement-encoded magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has emerged as a noninvasive and non-destructive technique used to quantify deformation and strains. However, the techniques are not yet applicable to a broad range of materials and load-bearing tissues. In this paper, we visualize transient and internal material deformation through the novel synchrony of external mechanical loading with rapid displacement-encoded MRI. We achieved deformation measurements in silicone gel materials with a spatial resolution of 100 µm and a temporal resolution (of 2.25 ms), set by the repetition time (TR) of the rapid MRI acquisition. Displacement and strain precisions after smoothing were 11 µm and 0.1%, respectively, approaching cellular length scales. Short (1/2 TR) echo times enabled visualization of in situ deformation in a human tibiofemoral joint, inclusive of multiple variable T2 biomaterials. Moreover, the MRI acquisitions achieved a fivefold improvement in imaging time over previous technology, setting the stage for mechanical imaging in vivo. Our results provide a general approach for noninvasive and non-destructive measurement, at high spatial and temporal resolution, of the dynamic mechanical response of a broad range of load-bearing materials and biological tissues.