Skeletal muscle is a very dynamic tissue, thus accurate quantification of skeletal muscle stiffness throughout its functional range is crucial to improve the physical functioning and independence following pathology. Shear wave elastography (SWE) is an ultrasound-based technique that characterizes tissue mechanical properties based on the propagation of remotely induced shear waves. The objective of this study is to validate SWE throughout the functional range of motion of skeletal muscle for three ultrasound transducer orientations. We hypothesized that combining traditional materials testing (MTS) techniques with SWE measurements will show increased stiffness measures with increasing tensile load, and will correlate well with each other for trials in which the transducer is parallel to underlying muscle fibers. To evaluate this hypothesis, we monitored the deformation throughout tensile loading of four porcine brachialis whole-muscle tissue specimens, while simultaneously making SWE measurements of the same specimen. We used regression to examine the correlation between Young's modulus from MTS and shear modulus from SWE for each of the transducer orientations. We applied a generalized linear model to account for repeated testing. Model parameters were estimated via generalized estimating equations. The regression coefficient was 0.1944, with a 95% confidence interval of (0.1463-0.2425) for parallel transducer trials. Shear waves did not propagate well for both the 45° and perpendicular transducer orientations. Both parallel SWE and MTS showed increased stiffness with increasing tensile load. This study provides the necessary first step for additional studies that can evaluate the distribution of stiffness throughout muscle.
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