Objective: To validate contrast-enhanced power Doppler ultrasonography (PD US) for the evaluation of synovial vascularity in an arthritic rabbit knee model in correlation with MR and histological findings. Materials and Methods: Power Doppler ultrasonography was performed for carrageenin-induced arthritic left knee and control right knee of 13 rabbits, first without and then with sonic contrast agent enhancement (Levovist, Schering, Berlin Germany), followed by gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging. Synovial vascularity was quantitatively assessed by calculating the color pixel area in power Doppler sonography using a computer-aided image analysis program and by grading the enhancement on MR images: grade 1, enhancement of knee joint is less than one-third of the area; grade 2, one-third to two-thirds enhancement; and grade 3, more than two-thirds enhancement. Microvessel density (MVD) was measured on slides stained immunohistochemically for CD31 antigen for histological assessment. Results: The mean area of color pixels in PD US changed from 4.37 to 16.42 mm2 in the arthritic knee after enhancement (p < 0.05), whereas it changed from 0.77 to 2.31 mm2 in the control knee (p < 0.05). Arthritic knees had greater power Doppler signal than control knees both before and after contrast administration (p < 0.05). The average MVD was 88 in arthritic knees and 46 in control knees. MVDs correlated with color pixel areas of contrast-enhanced power Doppler imaging in arthritic knees. In MR grading of arthritic knees, five were grade 2 and eight were grade 3. MVD and PD US revealed no significant difference between grade 2 and 3 arthritic knees (p > 0.05). Conclusion: Sonic contrast-enhanced PD US improves the visualization of synovial vascularity and allows quantitative measurement in experimentally induced rabbit arthritic knees.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging