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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2003 Aug;13(4):259-65.

Measuring mechanical properties of the vastus lateralis tendon-aponeurosis complex in vivo by ultrasound imaging.

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Sports Medicine Research Unit/Team Denmark Test center, Bispebjerg Hospital, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, 2400 Copenhagen NV, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The mechanical properties of the human vastus lateralis (VL) tendon-aponeurosis complex were investigated in eight male subjects. Knee extensor force, knee joint angle, and corresponding longitudinal VL aponeurosis displacement were monitored synchronously during graded (10-s) maximal isometric knee extension contractions. Displacement observed during isometric conditions may be regarded as an expression of deformation in the tissues distal to the measurement site. Furthermore, aponeurosis displacement was measured during passive knee extension (90-75 degrees degrees ), and used to correct displacement values obtained during active contraction for joint angular motion. The passive trial yielded a highly linear relationship between aponeurosis displacement and joint angular motion (r2 = 0.998 +/- 0.002) with a mean correction factor of 0.41 +/- 0.10 mm/degree. Maximal knee extensor force was 5834 +/- 1341 N with a corresponding VL aponeurosis displacement of 12.7 +/- 2.5 mm, while correcting for joint angular motion reduced maximal displacement approximately 9% (to 11.6 +/- 2.5 mm, P < 0.005) (data presented as means +/- SD). Two separate graded contraction trials were performed, and no between-trial differences were observed in either maximal force or maximal displacement. Between trial coefficient of determination and CV for maximal force and maximal displacement were r2 = 0.97, CV = 2.9% and r2 = 0.92, CV = 4.6%, respectively, indicating intra-day reproducibility of measurements. These data demonstrate that when applying the newly established ultrasound-based method of investigating quadriceps connective tissue mechanical properties, maximal isometric contraction is inevitably associated with some joint angular motion that significantly influences the calculations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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