A novel quantitative sonoelastography technique for assessing the viscoelastic properties of skeletal muscle tissue was developed. Slowly propagating shear wave interference patterns (termed crawling waves) were generated using a two-source configuration vibrating normal to the surface. Theoretical models predict crawling wave displacement fields, which were validated through phantom studies. In experiments, a viscoelastic model was fit to dispersive shear wave speed sonoelastographic data using nonlinear least-squares techniques to determine frequency-independent shear modulus and viscosity estimates. Shear modulus estimates derived using the viscoelastic model were in agreement with that obtained by mechanical testing on phantom samples. Preliminary sonoelastographic data acquired in healthy human skeletal muscles confirm that high-quality quantitative elasticity data can be acquired in vivo. Studies on relaxed muscle indicate discernible differences in both shear modulus and viscosity estimates between different skeletal muscle groups. Investigations into the dynamic viscoelastic properties of (healthy) human skeletal muscles revealed that voluntarily contracted muscles exhibit considerable increases in both shear modulus and viscosity estimates as compared to the relaxed state. Overall, preliminary results are encouraging and quantitative sonoelastography may prove clinically feasible for in vivo characterization of the dynamic viscoelastic properties of human skeletal muscle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging