The menisci are the two crescent shaped cartilage structures found on the top of the tibia. Having a healthy meniscus is vital because it spreads the weight placed on the knee, reduces friction during movement, and helps guide knee motion. Despite the high importance of this knee structure, there are gaps in knowledge of how it actually works.
Meniscal pathology is usually diagnosed using MRI and is captured while a patient is lying still in the scanner with no weight through the knee. This method only gives clinicians and researchers a small glimpse into its function and recovery from surgery.
At SORI, we are attempting to fill this knowledge gap by studying the role of the meniscus during movement and weight-bearing situations while in an MRI scanner.
We have recently formed a collaboration with Western Medical Imaging which allows us to use their ‘upright multi-position’ open bore MRI system. This machine allows for much more movement within the imaging setup, including having the patient standing with the knee in various positions. These positions allow us to study healthy and injured knees under weight-bearing conditions in quasi-dynamic conditions, i.e. the patient is imaged at many angles that would be present throughout movement, though each position needs to be held in order to take the image.
We have already published one paper using findings from our open-MRI experiments. This paper measured the 2D slope angle of the meniscus as the knee bends. Our next step is to map out the movement of the whole meniscus in 3D to fully understand how it moves while it bends. This 3D mapping has the potential to effect how meniscal repair patients are treated and rehabilitated.