Boston Medical Center Researchers Studying Tendon Stiffness In Boston Marathon Runners

in Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine
April 9th, 2009

Contact: Allison Rubin, 617-638-8491 | afrubin@bu.edu

(Boston) – Physicians from Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) radiology department are using a new form of ultrasound to look at tendon stiffness in marathon runners. The study is looking at the quadriceps, patella and achilles tendons in runners before and after the Boston Marathon.

The goal of this research is to determine if the runner’s subjective tendon stiffness correlates with an objective measurement of tendons stiffness. This study also will explore whether elastography can be used to monitor tendon recovery. In addition the researchers will study the tendons of non-athletes in order to see differences in tendon properties based on physical training.

Researchers will use elastography, a new ultrasound imaging technique, to measure the elastic properties of soft tissues. As low frequency sound waves spread through soft tissues, there is slight transient displacement of the tissue. With conventional ultrasound, this displacement happens rapidly and is not recorded. Traditional ultrasound records return ultrasound images at about 300 frames per second. This new elastography acquires images at 3,000 frames per second and is able to measure tissue displacement as a quantitative value in kPa (kilo pascal, a unit of pressure measurement).

“The results of this pilot study will allow us to understand how the recovery of athletes can be measured in a quantitative way,” explained Alda F. Cossi, MD, a physician in the Department of Radiology at BMC and an associate professor of radiology at Boston University School of Medicine, as well as a former Liberty Athletic Club member. “The knowledge acquired here can be used to monitor performance, prevent injuries and monitor tendon recovery in high-performance athletes, initially,” she added.

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