Preprint / Version 1

Adjacent Tissues Reduce Shear Wave Speeds in Axially Loaded Tendons


  • Jonathon Blank University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Darryl Thelen



tendon, subcutaneous fat, shear wave propagation, finite element model, multi-layered model, shear wave dispersion


Shear wave tensiometry is a noninvasive approach for gauging tendon loads based on shear wave speed. Transient shear waves are induced and tracked via sensors secured to the skin overlying a superficial tendon. Wave speeds measured in vivo via tensiometry modulate with tendon load but are lower than that predicted by a tensioned beam model of an isolated tendon, which may be due to the added inertia of adjacent tissues. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of adjacent fat tissue on shear wave propagation measurements in axially loaded tendons. We created a layered, dynamic finite element model of an elliptical tendon surrounded by subcutaneous fat. Transient shear waves were generated via an impulsive excitation delivered across the tendon or through the subcutaneous fat. The layered models demonstrated dispersive behavior with phase velocity increasing with frequency. Group shear wave speed could be ascertained via dispersion analysis or time-to-peak measures at sequential spatial locations. Simulated wave speeds in the tendon and adjacent fat were similar and modulated with tendon loading. However, wave speed magnitudes were
consistently lower in the layered models than in an isolated tendon. For all models, the wave speedstress relationship was well described by a tensioned beam model after accounting for the added inertia of the adjacent tissues. These results support the premise that externally excited shear waves are measurable in subcutaneous fat and modulate with axial loading in the underlying tendon. The model suggests that adjacent tissues do add inertia to the system, and hence must be considered when using tensiometry wave speed measures to infer absolute tendon loading.


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