Quantitative US Elastography Can Be Used to Quantify Mechanical and Histologic Tendon Healing in a Rabbit Model of Achilles Tendon Transection

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1148/radiol.2016160695

Quantitative US elastography may be a useful method with which to evaluate tissue healing after Achilles tendon rupture.

Purpose

To determine the time-dependent change in strain ratios (SRs) at the healing site of an Achilles tendon rupture in a rabbit model of tendon transection and to assess the correlation between SRs and the mechanical and histologic properties of the healing tissue.

Materials and Methods

Experimental methods were approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. The Achilles tendons of 24 New Zealand white rabbits (48 limbs) were surgically transected. The SRs of Achilles tendons were calculated by using compression-based quantitative ultrasonographic elastography measurements obtained 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks after transection. After in vivo elastography, the left Achilles tendon was harvested for mechanical testing of ultimate load, ultimate stress, elastic modulus, and linear stiffness, and the right tendons were harvested for tissue histologic analysis with the Bonar scale. Time-dependent changes in SRs, mechanical parameters, and Bonar scale scores were evaluated by using repeated-measures analysis of variance. The correlation between SRs and each measured variable was evaluated by using the Spearman rank correlation coefficient.

Results

Mean SRs and Bonar scale values decreased as a function of time after transection, whereas mechanical parameters increased (P < .001). SR correlated with ultimate stress (ρ = 0.68, P <.001,) elastic modulus (ρ = 0.74, P <.001), and the Bonar scale (ρ = 0.87, P <.001).

Conclusion

Quantitative elastography could be a useful method with which to evaluate mechanical and histologic properties of the healing tendon.

© RSNA, 2017

Online supplemental material is available for this article.

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Article History

Received March 22, 2016; revision requested May 27; revision received September 16; accepted September 18; final version accepted October 4.
Published online: Jan 31 2017
Published in print: May 2017