Journal of Biomechanics vol:45 issue:15 pages:2618-23
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of 2D ultrasound elastography to assess tendon tissue motion and strain under axial loading conditions. Four porcine flexor tendons were cyclically loaded to 4% peak strain using a servo hydraulic test system. An ultrasound transducer was positioned to image a longitudinal cross-section of the tendon during loading. Ultrasound radiofrequency (RF) data were collected at 63 frames per second simultaneously with applied force and crosshead displacement. A grid of nodes was manually positioned on an ultrasound image of the unloaded tendon. Small kernels (2×1 mm) centered at each node were then cross-correlated with search regions centered at corresponding nodal locations in the subsequent frame. Frame-to-frame nodal displacements were defined as the values that maximized the normalized cross-correlations. This process was repeated across all frames in the loading cycle, providing a measurement of the 2D trajectories of tissue motion throughout the loading cycle. The high resolution displacement measures along the RF beam direction were spatially differentiated to estimate the transverse (relative to tendon fibers) tissue strains. The nodal displacements obtained using this method were very repeatable, with average along-fiber trajectories that were highly correlated (average r=0.99) with the prescribed crosshead displacements. The elastography transverse strains were also repeatable and were consistent with average transverse strains estimated via changes in tendon width. The apparent Poisson's ratios (0.82-1.64) exceeded the incompressibility limit, but are comparable to values found for tendon in prior experimental and computational studies. The results demonstrate that 2D ultrasound elastography is a promising approach for noninvasively assessing localized tissue motion and strain patterns.