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Supersonic shear wave elastography of human tendons is associated with in vivo tendon stiffness over small strains

Mifsud, Tiziana, CHATZISTERGOS, Panagiotis, Maganaris, Constantinos, CHOCKALINGAM, Nachiappan, Padhiar, Nat, Stafrace, Kirill Micallef and Gatt, Alfred (2023) Supersonic shear wave elastography of human tendons is associated with in vivo tendon stiffness over small strains. Journal of Biomechanics, 152. p. 111558. ISSN 0021-9290

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Abstract or description

Supersonic shear wave (SW) elastography has emerged as a useful imaging modality offering researchers and clinicians a fast, non-invasive, quantitative assessment of tendon biomechanics. However, the exact relationship between SW speed and in vivo tendon stiffness is not intuitively obvious and needs to be verified. This study aimed to explore the validity of supersonic SW elastography against a gold standard method to measure the Achilles tendon’s in vivo tensile stiffness by combining conventional ultrasound imaging with dynamometry. Twelve healthy participants performed maximal voluntary isometric plantarflexion contractions (MVC) on a dynamometer with simultaneous ultrasonographic recording of the medial gastrocnemius musculotendinous junction for dynamometry-based measurement of stiffness. The tendon’s force-elongation relationship and stress-strain behaviour were assessed. Tendon stiffness at different levels of tension was calculated as the slope of the stress-strain graph. SW speed was measured at the midportion of the free tendon and tendon Young’s modulus was estimated. A correlation analysis between the two techniques revealed a statistically significant correlation for small strains (r(10)=0.604, p=.038). SW-based assessments of in vivo tendon stiffness were not correlated to the gold standard method for strains in the tendon greater than 10% of the maximum strain during MVC. The absolute values of SW-based Young’s modulus estimations were approximately three orders of magnitude lower than dynamometry-based measurements. Supersonic SW elastography should be only used to assess SW speed for the detection and study of differences between tissue regions, differences between people or groups of people or changes over time in tendon initial stiffness (i.e., stiffness for small strains).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ultrasound Imaging; Elasticity Imaging Techniques; Achilles Tendon; Validity of results; Mechanical Stress
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Sport and Exercise
Depositing User: Panagiotis CHATZISTERGOS
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2023 15:14
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2023 04:30

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