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01-12-2016 | Research | Uitgave 1/2016 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2016

Quantitative ultrasound imaging of Achilles tendon integrity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals: reliability and minimal detectable change

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2016
Marie-Josée Nadeau, Amélie Desrochers, Martin Lamontagne, Christian Larivière, Dany H. Gagnon



Quantifying the integrity of the Achilles tendon (AT) is a rehabilitation challenge. Adopting quantitative ultrasound measurements (QUS measurements) of the AT could fill this gap by 1) evaluating the test-retest reliability and accuracy of QUS measurements of the AT; 2) determining the best protocol for collecting QUS measurements in clinical practice.


A total of 23 ATs with symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy and 63 asymptomatic ATs were evaluated. Eight images were recorded for each AT (2 visits × 2 evaluators × 2 images). Multiple sets of QUS measurements were taken: geometric (thickness, width, area), first-order statistics (computed from a grayscale histogram distribution: echogenicity, variance, skewness, kurtosis, entropy) and texture features (computed from co-occurrence matrices: contrast, energy, homogeneity). A generalizability study quantified the reliability and standard error of measurement (accuracy) of each QUS measurement, and a decision study identified the best measurement taking protocols.


Geometric QUS measurements demonstrated excellent accuracy and reliability. QUS measurements computed from the grayscale histogram distribution revealed poor accuracy and reliability. QUS measurements derived from co-occurrence matrices showed variable accuracy and moderate to excellent reliability. In clinical practice, using an average of the results of three images collected by a single evaluator during a single visit is recommended.


The use of geometric QUS measurements enables quantification of AT integrity in clinical practice and research settings. More studies on QUS measurements derived from co-occurrence matrices are warranted.

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