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Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 1999 Mar-Apr;40(2):151-60.

Ultrasonographic evaluation of equine tendons: a quantitative in vitro study of the effects of amplifier gain level, transducer-tilt, and transducer-displacement.

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Raaphorst Equine Clinic, Wassenaar, The Netherlands.


The objective of the in vitro experiments described in this paper was to quantify the effects of some instrumental variables on the quantitative evaluation, by means of first-order gray-level statistics, of ultrasonographic images of equine tendons. The experiments were done on three isolated equine superficial digital flexor tendons that were mounted in a frame and submerged in a waterbath. Sections with either normal tendon tissue, an acute lesion, or a chronic scar, were selected. In these sections, the following experiments were done: 1) a gradual increase of total amplifier gain output subdivided in 12 equal steps; 2) a transducer tilt plus or minus 3 degrees from perpendicular, with steps of 1 degree; and 3) a transducer displacement along, and perpendicular to, the tendon long axis, with 16 steps of 0.25 mm each. Transverse ultrasonographic images were collected, and in the regions of interest (ROI) first-order gray-level statistics were calculated to quantify the effects of each experiment. Some important observations were: 1) the total amplifier gain output has a substantial influence on the ultrasonographic image; for example, in the case of an acute lesion, a low gain setting results in an almost completely black image; whereas, with higher gain settings, a marked "filling in" effect on the lesion can be observed; 2) the relative effects of the tilting of the transducer are substantial in normal tendon tissue (18%) and chronic scar (12%); whereas, in the event of an acute lesion, the effects on the mean gray level are dramatic (40%); and 3) the relative effects of displacement of the transducer are small in normal tendon tissue, but on the other hand, the mean gray-level changes 7% in chronic scar, and even 20% in an acute lesion. In general, slight variations in scanner settings and transducer handling can have considerable effects on the gray levels of the ultrasonographic image. Furthermore, there is a strong indication that this quantitative method, as far as based exclusively on the first-order gray-level statistics, may be not discriminative enough to accurately assess the integrity of the tendon. Therefore, the value of a quantitative evaluation of the first-order gray-level statistics for the assessment of the integrity of the equine tendon is questionable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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