We analyzed image characteristics in T1-, T2-, and diffusion-weighted in vitro magnetic resonance (MR) images acquired at predefined stages of the ovarian cycle in 36 heifers to test the hypothesis that MR image attributes of the follicle wall reflect the physiologic status of ovarian follicles (viable, atretic, dominant, subordinate). Numerical pixel values (NPV), standard deviation of pixel values (heterogeneity), and area under the curve were used to assess images of follicle walls. Pixel values of the wall were used to calculate a regression line from which intercept, slope, and coefficient of determination were calculated. In T1 images, NPV of dominant follicles were less likely to fit a regression line at the preovulatory phase than at any other phase (P < 0.1). Preovulatory dominant follicles had lower area under the curve in diffusion-weighted images than early and late static dominant follicles of the anovulatory wave (P < 0.02). Subordinate follicles in the presence of a preovulatory dominant follicle had lower mean NPV in T1- and T2-weighted images and lower intercepts in T1-weighted images than subordinate follicles of the anovulatory wave (P < 0.02). Early atresia of dominant follicles was identified at the late static phase by greater area, mean NPV, and slope in T2-weighted images (P < 0.02). Preovulatory dominant follicles had poor fit of NPV to a regression line in T1-weighted images and lower area under the curve in diffusion images. Atretic follicles had brighter walls with more acute transitions from follicular fluid to stroma in T2-weighted images and more heterogeneous walls in diffusion images. The MR image attributes of the follicle wall reflected the physiologic status of dominant and largest subordinate follicles.
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