Evaluation of Hand Tendon Elastic Properties During Rehabilitation Through High-Frequency Ultrasound Shear Elastography

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Tendon injuries lead to tendon stiffness, which impairs skeletal muscle movement. Most studies have focused on patellar or Achilles tendons by using ultrasound elastography. Only a few studies have measured the stiffness of hand tendons because their thickness is only 1-2 mm, rendering clinical ultrasound elastography unsuitable for mapping hand tendon stiffness. In this study, a high-frequency ultrasound shear elastography (HFUSE) system was proposed to map the shear wave velocity (SWV) of hand flexor tendons. A handheld vibration system that was coaxially mounted with an external vibrator on a high-frequency ultrasound (HFUS) array transducer allowed the operators to scan hand tendons freely. To quantify the performance of HFUSE, six parameters were comprehensively measured from homogeneous, two-sided, and three-sided gelatin phantom experiments: bias, precision, lateral resolution, contrast, contrast-to-noise ratio, and accuracy. HFUSE demonstrated an excellent resolution of 147 μm to distinguish the local stiffness of thin phantom (thickness: 1.2 mm) without compromising bias, precision, contrast, contrast-to-noise ratio, and accuracy, which has been noted with previous systems. Human experiments involved four patients with hand tendon injuries who underwent ≥2 months of rehabilitation. Using HFUSE, two-dimensional SWV images of flexor tendons could be clearly mapped for healthy and injured tendons, respectively. The findings demonstrate that HFUSE can be a promising tool for evaluating the elastic properties of the injured hand tendon after surgery and during rehabilitation and thus help monitor progress.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Instrumentation
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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