PURPOSE To correlate magnetic resonance (MR) signal characteristics of developing regions at the ends of bones with the histologic findings. MATERIALS AND METHODS In 36 newborn lamb epiphyses (including cartilage of the epiphysis and physis, and bone of the secondary ossification center and juxtaphyseal metaphysis), signal intensity and thickness of cartilaginous regions seen on MR images were correlated with architecture and thickness of zones shown in corresponding histologic sections. Possible effects of T2, magnetization transfer, fat or water content, chemical shift, and anisotropy on differences in regional signal intensity were evaluated. RESULTS MR imaging depicted five regions between the secondary ossification center and the metaphysis corresponding histologically to (a) zone of provisional calcification of the secondary ossification center, (b) physis of the secondary ossification center, (c) epiphyseal cartilage, (d) physis, and (e) zone of provisional calcification. The thickness of regions shown on T1- and T2-weighted images correlated with that of histologic zones (r = .9). T2 signal intensity and relaxation time were greater in physeal than in epiphyseal cartilage (P < .01). No regional differences due to fat or water content, magnetization transfer, chemical shift, or anisotropy were found. CONCLUSION MR imaging findings differentiate epiphyseal and physeal regions and correlate with histologic findings. T2 is slower in physeal than in epiphyseal cartilage, probably reflecting differences in water binding.
D. Jaramillo, S. Connolly, R. Mulkern