ultrasound elasticity imaging
posterior tibial tendon
AdvisorWitte, Russell S.
Latt, Daniel L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPosterior 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, it could be used to quantify the severity of tendonosis and help determine the appropriate treatment. Ultrasound elasticity imaging (UEI) is a real-time, noninvasive technique to objectively measure mechanical properties in soft tissue. It consists of acquiring a sequence of ultrasound frames and applying speckle tracking to estimate displacement and strain at each pixel. The goals of my dissertation were to 1) use acoustic simulations to investigate the performance of UEI during tendon deformation with different geometries; 2) develop and validate UEI as a potentially noninvasive technique for quantifying tendon mechanical properties in human cadaver experiments; 3) design a platform for UEI to measure mechanical properties of the PTT in vivo and determine whether there are detectable and quantifiable differences between healthy and diseased tendons. First, ultrasound simulations of tendon deformation were performed using an acoustic modeling program. The effects of different tendon geometries (cylinder and curved cylinder) on the performance of UEI were investigated. Modeling results indicated that UEI accurately estimated the strain in the cylinder geometry, but underestimated in the curved cylinder. The simulation also predicted that the out-of-the-plane motion of the PTT would cause a non-uniform strain pattern within incompressible homogeneous isotropic material. However, to average within a small region of interest determined by principal component analysis (PCA) would improve the estimation. Next, UEI was performed on five human cadaver feet mounted in a materials testing system (MTS) while the PTT was attached to a force actuator. A portable ultrasound scanner collected 2D 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±0.16GPa) using UEI. This was consistent with simultaneous measurements made by the MTS across the whole tendon (0.52±0.18GPa). 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 human PTT. Finally, we built a custom ankle inversion platform for in vivo imaging of human subjects (eight healthy volunteers and nine advanced PTTD patients). We found non-linear elastic properties of the PTTD, which could be quantified by the slope between the elastic modulus (E) and the inversion force (F). This slope (ΔE/ΔF), or Non-linear Elasticity Parameter (NEP), was significantly different for the two groups: 0.16±0.20 MPa/N for healthy tendons and 0.45±0.43 MPa/N for PTTD tendons. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve revealed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.83±0.07, which indicated that the classifier system is valid. In summary, the acoustic modeling, cadaveric studies, and in vivo experiments together demonstrated that UEI accurately quantifies tendon mechanical properties. As a valuable clinical tool, UEI also has the potential to help guide treatment decisions for advanced PTTD and other tendinopathies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College