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Huda M Elsharkasi, Suet C Chen, Lewis Steell, Shuko Joseph, Naiemh Abdalrahaman, Christie McComb, Blair Johnston, John Foster, Sze Choong Wong, and S Faisal Ahmed

Objective

The aim of this study is to investigate the role of 3T-MRI in assessing musculoskeletal health in children and young people.

Design

Bone, muscle and bone marrow imaging was performed in 161 healthy participants with a median age of 15.0 years (range, 8.0, 30.0).

Methods

Detailed assessment of bone microarchitecture (constructive interference in the steady state (CISS) sequence, voxel size 0.2 × 0.2 × 0.4 mm3), bone geometry (T1-weighted turbo spin echo (TSE) sequence, voxel size 0.4 × 0.4 × 2 mm3) and bone marrow (1H-MRS, point resolved spectroscopy sequence (PRESS) (single voxel size 20 × 20 × 20 mm3) size and muscle adiposity (Dixon, voxel size 1.1 × 1.1 × 2 mm3).

Results

There was an inverse association of apparent bone volume/total volume (appBV/TV) with age (r = −0.5, P < 0.0005). Cortical area, endosteal and periosteal circumferences and muscle cross-sectional area showed a positive association to age (r > 0.49, P < 0.0001). In those over 17 years of age, these parameters were also higher in males than females (P < 0.05). This sex difference was also evident for appBV/TV and bone marrow adiposity (BMA) in the older participants (P < 0.05). AppBV/TV showed a negative correlation with BMA (r = −0.22, P =  0.01) which also showed an association with muscle adiposity (r = 0.24, P = 0.04). Cortical geometric parameters were highly correlated with muscle area (r > 0.57, P < 0.01).

Conclusions

In addition to providing deep insight into the normal relationships between bone, fat and muscle in young people, these novel data emphasize the role of MRI as a non-invasive method for performing a comprehensive and integrated assessment of musculoskeletal health in the growing skeleton.