In the athletic population, reproducible imaging of cartilage damage is
vital for treatment considerations. With appropriate pulse sequencing,
magnetic resonance imaging has been shown to be an accurate noninvasive method
for the evaluation of articular cartilage injuries and for evaluating
postoperative changes following chondral repair. In addition, magnetic
resonance imaging does not utilize ionizing radiation, has direct multiplanar
capabilities, and allows high-resolution imaging of soft-tissue structures.
The purposes of the present review are to update orthopaedic surgeons on the
applications and techniques for magnetic resonance imaging of cartilage in the
athletic population, to define the normal magnetic resonance imaging
characteristics of articular cartilage, to illustrate the spectrum of
articular cartilage lesions that are detectable with magnetic resonance
imaging, and to review normal and abnormal magnetic resonance imaging findings
following cartilage repair.