Direct comparison of in vivo Achilles tendon moment arms obtained from ultrasound and MR scans

Document Type

Journal Article


American Physiological Society


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research




Fath, F., Blazevich, A. J., Waugh, C., Miller, S., & Korff, T. (2010). Direct comparison of in vivo Achilles tendon moment arms obtained from ultrasound and MR scans. Journal of Applied Physiology, 109(6), 1644-1652. Available here


Accurate and reliable estimation of muscle moment arms is a prerequisite for the development of musculoskeletal models. Numerous techniques are available to estimate the Achilles tendon moment arm in vivo. The purposes of this study were 1) to compare in vivo Achilles tendon moment arms obtained using the center of rotation (COR) and tendon excursion (TE) methods and 2) to assess the reliability of each method. For the COR method, magnetic resonance (MR) images from nine participants were obtained at ankle angles of -15°, 0°, and +15° and analyzed using Reuleaux’ method. For the TE method, the movement of the gastrocnemius medialis-Achilles tendon junction was recorded using ultrasonography as the ankle was passively rotated through its range of motion. The Achilles tendon moment arm was obtained by differentiation of tendon displacement with respect to ankle angular excursion using seven different differentiation techniques. Moment arms obtained using the COR method were significantly greater than those obtained using the TE method (P < 0.01), but results from both methods were well correlated. The coefficient of determination between moment arms derived from the COR and TE methods was highest when tendon displacement was linearly differentiated over a ±10° interval (R2 = 0.94). The between measurement coefficient of variation was 3.9% for the COR method and 4.5–9.7% for the TE method, depending on the differentiation technique. The high reliabilities and strong relationship between methods demonstrate that both methods are robust against their limitations. The large absolute between-method differences (~25– 30%) in moment arms have significant implications for their use in musculoskeletal models.



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