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J Acoust Soc Am. 1996 May;99(5):3225-32.

Ultrasonic properties of tendon: velocity, attenuation, and backscattering in equine digital flexor tendons.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.


Ultrasound velocity, attenuation, and backscattering were measured in vitro in samples of equine digital flexor tendon sandwiched between plane, parallel rexolite buffer rods. The buffer rods were coupled to transmitting and receiving transducers (nominally 10 MHz) mounted in-line and facing one another on the jaws of a digital caliper. Six superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendons and six deep digital flexor (DDF) tendons were measured in three orthogonal directions: along the long axis of the tendon (D), and across the tendon in the dorsal-volar (C), and lateral (L) directions. Substantial anisotropy was apparent in all the measured properties. The velocity data, which in both tendons showed a higher velocity along the fibers than across (e.g., in the DDF tendon at 0 degrees C: 1713 +/- 9 m/s in the D direction compared with 1650 +/- 5 m/s in the C direction), were consistent with a composite comprising stiff fibers embedded in a less stiff medium of lower speed. The apparent backscattering coefficient adjusted for the tissue's frequency-dependent attenuation (e.g., in the C direction of the DDF tendon at 0 degrees C: 7.4 x 10(-3) cm-1 sr-1), was independent of frequency in both transverse directions and larger than that measured along the long axis of the tendon (e.g., in DDF tendon at 0 degrees C: 1.2 x 10(-3) cm-1 sr-1 at 7 MHz) in which direction the apparent backscattering coefficient increased with frequency as f4.0 +/- 1.2. The frequency-independent backscattering was thought to be due to specular reflection from the boundaries between the fascicles, i.e., the bundles of fibers making up the tendon, while backscattering along the axis was due to structures of unknown origin, but of a size much smaller than 45 microns. Attenuation of ultrasound directed along the fibers was higher than that across (at 7 MHz in DDF tendon at 0 degrees C: 58 dB/cm in the D direction compared with 11.3 dB/cm in the C direction). Calculations indicated that the attenuation was primarily caused by absorption rather than scattering.

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