Radiologist describes MRI as a non-invasive microscope
Clinical research presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (Feb. 23 - 26) by orthopedic specialist Hollis Potter, MD, chief, director of research, Department of Radiology and Imaging at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, promises a new, noninvasive way to diagnose, treat and monitor osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that contributes to the most common type of arthritis.
Using GE Healthcare's MRI technology as a non-invasive microscope, Potter developed a new technique for orthopedic surgeons to detect cartilage degeneration earlier and more accurately, GE said.
"Traditionally, surgeons have had to biopsy cartilage to measure success," said Potter. "What MR imaging is able to do, for the first time, is potentially act as a surrogate for interventional biopsies."   
Utilizing GE's 1.5 and 3T MR systems, Potter also announced new techniques that have been shown to be the most sensitive clinical imaging test in demonstrating bone loss adjacent to joint replacements. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, particle disease is the number one failure of joint replacement surgery.  Potter said that MR has been effective in detecting early forms of particle disease.  
"What's really exciting about this research is we are offering the patient non-invasive cartilage imaging," said Potter. "After the patient undergoes surgery to replace cartilage, these new MR techniques can act as a surrogate for second look arthroscopy. In other words, the patient will not have to undergo a second operation for purely diagnostic purposes."
"Intuitively, orthopedic surgeons think of MR to image soft tissue. But in this research, MR has shown success imaging soft tissue right next to artificial joints," said Potter.
Potter is a board-certified radiologist specializing in musculoskeletal MR imaging since 1990. She has published 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 38 book chapters.