What does normal tendon structure look like? New insights into tissue characterization in the Achilles tendon

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2017 Jul;27(7):746-753. doi: 10.1111/sms.12706. Epub 2016 Jul 1.

Abstract

Recently, ultrasound tissue characterization (UTC) was introduced as a reliable method for quantification of tendon structure. Despite increasing publications on the use of UTC, it is striking that there is a lack of normative data in active adolescents. Therefore, the aim of this study was to provide normative values of the Achilles tendon as quantified by UTC. Seventy physiotherapy students (26 male and 44 female students) with no history of Achilles tendon injuries were recruited. The Achilles tendons were scanned with UTC to characterize tendon structure. This study demonstrated that Achilles tendons of active, healthy adolescents contained 54.6% echo type I, 42.8% echo type II, 2.2% echo type III, and 0.3% echo type IV at midportion. The comparison between insertion and midportion of the tendon showed more echo type II at insertion (P < 0.001). Furthermore, female tendons contained significantly more echo type II, in both insertion and midportion compared with male tendons (P = 0.004 and P = 0.003, respectively). The results of this study, with respect to the MDC (minimum detectable change), highlight differences in the UTC echopattern in the normal population (sex and regional location), which are important considerations for future studies.

Keywords: Achilles tendon; adolescents; echo type distribution; ultrasound; ultrasound tissue characterization.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / anatomy & histology*
  • Achilles Tendon / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography