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J Biomech Eng. 2009 Sep;131(9):094504. doi: 10.1115/1.3194753.

A new laser reflectance system capable of measuring changing cross-sectional area of soft tissues during tensile testing.

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School of Engineering, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada.


Determination of the biomechanical properties of soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments is dependent on the accurate measurement of their cross-sectional area (CSA). Measurement methods, which involve contact with the specimen, are problematic because soft tissues are easily deformed. Noncontact measurement methods are preferable in this regard, but may experience difficulty in dealing with the complex cross-sectional shapes and glistening surfaces seen in soft tissues. Additionally, existing CSA measurement systems are separated from the materials testing machine, resulting in the inability to measure CSA during testing. Furthermore, CSA measurements are usually made in a different orientation, and with a different preload, prior to testing. To overcome these problems, a noncontact laser reflectance system (LRS) was developed. Designed to fit in an Instron 8872 servohydraulic test machine, the system measures CSA by orbiting a laser transducer in a circular path around a soft tissue specimen held by tissue clamps. CSA measurements can be conducted before and during tensile testing. The system was validated using machined metallic specimens of various shapes and sizes, as well as different sizes of bovine tendons. The metallic specimens could be measured to within 4% accuracy, and the tendons to within an average error of 4.3%. Statistical analyses showed no significant differences between the measurements of the LRS and those of the casting method, an established measurement technique. The LRS was successfully used to measure the changing CSA of bovine tendons during uniaxial tensile testing. The LRS developed in this work represents a simple, quick, and accurate way of reconstructing complex cross-sectional profiles and calculating cross-sectional areas. In addition, the LRS represents the first system capable of automatically measuring changing CSA of soft tissues during tensile testing, facilitating the calculation of more accurate biomechanical properties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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