In vivo estimation and repeatability of force-length relationship and stiffness of the human achilles tendon using phase contrast MRI

Dongsuk Shin, Taija Finni, Sinyeob Ahn, John A. Hodgson, Hae Dong Lee, V. Reggie Edgerton, Shantanu Sinha

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Purpose: To devise a method using velocity encoded phase contrast MRI and MR-compatible dynamometry, for in vivo estimation of elastic properties of the human Achilles tendon and to assess within-session and day-to-day repeatability of this technique. Materials and Methods: Achilles tendon force and calcaneus-movement-adjusted displacement were measured during a submaximal isometric plantarflexton in 4 healthy subjects, four repeated trials each. The measured force-length (F-L) relationship was least-squares fitted to a cubic polynomial. Typical error was calculated for tendon displacement at multiple force levels, stiffness from the "linear region," and transition point from the displacement point separating the linear and nonlinear parts of the curve. Results: Displacements of the tendon were determined up to a maximum force of 500N, with mean stiffness of 234 ± 53 N/mm, mean transition point of 2.70 ± 0.23 mm and maximum tendon displacement of 3.38 mm. Variability of tendon displacement was not dependent on the force level. Overall typical errors were 0.09 mm and 0.16 mm for within-session and between days, respectively. Typical error of transition point was 0.05 mm and 0.14 mm. Stiffness had typical errors of 47.24 N/mm and 51.95 N/mm. The tendon cross-sectional area and calcaneus displacement were found to be very significant factors in minimizing the individual differences in F-L curves. Conclusion: The method yielded F-L relationships, stiffness, and transition point values that showed good within and day-to-day repeatability. The technique compared well with the more conventional one using ultrasonography. Its reliability indicates potential for measuring tendon structural changes after an injury, disease, and altered loading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1045
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Oct 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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