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J Biomech. 2006;39(16):3071-5. Epub 2006 Jan 4.

The development and validation of a charge-coupled device laser reflectance system to measure the complex cross-sectional shape and area of soft tissues.

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  • 1Musculoskeletal Research Center, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Determination of the stresses in soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons under uniaxial tension require accurate measurement of their cross-sectional area. Of the many methods available, there are concerns regarding contact methods which exert external loads and deform the cross-sectional shape of soft tissues. Hence, the area measurements are affected. On the other hand, non-contact methods have difficulties in dealing with complex shapes, especially with concavities. To address these problems, a new measurement system using a charge-coupled device (CCD) laser displacement sensor has been developed and tested. This system measures the complete surface profile of the object by rotating the laser 360 degrees around the soft tissue. Then, the cross-sectional shape is reconstructed and the cross-sectional area determined via Simpson's rule. The system's accuracy was first verified with objects of various cross-sectional shapes and areas (cylinder: 23.1, 76.5, 510.3 mm(2); cuboid: 34.3, 163.8, 316.7 mm(2), and cylinder with concavities: 121.4 mm(2)). The CCD laser reflectance system's accuracy was within 2.0% for these objects. To test biological application, the goat Achilles tendon and the anteromedial bundle of the porcine anterior cruciate ligament specimens were measured and compared to values obtained using another accepted technique, the laser micrometer system. The areas obtained using the CCD laser reflectance system were 4.4% and 9.7% lower than those obtained with the laser micrometer system respectively. These differences could be mainly attributed to concavities. Thus, the CCD laser reflectance system is an improved method for measuring the cross-sectional shape and area of soft tissues since it can detect and account for concavities without physically contacting the specimen.

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