Advances in modern magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) pulse sequences have enabled clinically practical cortical bone imaging. Human cortical bone is known to contain a distribution of T(1) and T(2) components attributed to bound and pore water, although clinical imaging approaches have yet to discriminate bound from pore water based on their relaxation properties. Herein, two clinically compatible MRI strategies are proposed for selectively imaging either bound or pore water by utilizing differences in their T(1)s and T(2)s. The strategies are validated in a population of ex vivo human cortical bones, and estimates obtained for bound and pore water are compared to bone mechanical properties. Results show that the two MRI strategies provide good estimates of bound and pore water that correlate to bone mechanical properties. As such, the strategies for bound and pore water discrimination shown herein should provide diagnostically useful tools for assessing bone fracture risk, once applied to clinical MRI.
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