Ultrasound elasticity imaging for determining the mechanical properties of human posterior tibial tendon: a cadaveric study.

TitleUltrasound elasticity imaging for determining the mechanical properties of human posterior tibial tendon: a cadaveric study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsGao L, Yuan JS, Heden GJ, Szivek JA, Taljanovic MS, L Latt D, Witte RS
JournalIEEE Trans Biomed Eng
Date Published2015 Apr
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and over, Biomechanical Phenomena, Elastic Modulus, Elasticity Imaging Techniques, Female, Humans, Male, Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction, Tendons

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) is a common degenerative condition leading to a severe impairment of gait. There is currently no effective method to determine whether a patient with advanced PTTD would benefit from several months of bracing and physical therapy or ultimately require surgery. Tendon degeneration is closely associated with irreversible degradation of its collagen structure, leading to changes to its mechanical properties. If these properties could be monitored in vivo, they could be used to quantify the severity of tendonosis and help determine the appropriate treatment. The goal of this cadaveric study was, therefore, to develop and validate ultrasound elasticity imaging (UEI) as a potentially noninvasive technique for quantifying tendon mechanical properties. Five human cadaver feet were mounted in a materials testing system (MTS), while the posterior tibial tendon (PTT) was attached to a force actuator. A portable ultrasound scanner collected 2-D data during loading cycles. Young's modulus was calculated from the strain, loading force, and cross-sectional area of the PTT. Average Young's modulus for the five tendons was (0.45 ± 0.16 GPa) using UEI, which was consistent with simultaneous measurements made by the MTS across the whole tendon (0.52 ± 0.18 GPa). We also calculated the scaling factor (0.12 ± 0.01) between the load on the PTT and the inversion force at the forefoot, a measurable quantity in vivo. This study suggests that UEI could be a reliable in vivo technique for estimating the mechanical properties of the PTT, and as a clinical tool, help guide treatment decisions for advanced PTTD and other tendinopathies.

Alternate JournalIEEE Trans Biomed Eng
PubMed ID25532163
PubMed Central IDPMC4754123
Grant ListR21 AR065732 / AR / NIAMS NIH HHS / United States