An innovative solution to reduce muscle deformation during ultrasonography data collection

Francesco Cenni, Simon Henri Schless, Davide Monari, Lynn Bar-On, Erwin Aertbeliën, Herman Bruyninckx, Britta Hanssen, Kaat Desloovere

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: 3D freehand ultrasound enables the creation of volumetric data. The acquisition of morphological features, such as muscle volume, is influenced by the variations in force applied to the skin with the ultrasound probe. To minimise the deformations, a concave-shaped plastic mount combined with a custom-shaped gel pad was developed for the ultrasound head, named Portico. This study analyses to what extent the Portico reduces muscle deformation and corresponding errors in estimating muscle volume. Method: Twenty medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles were assessed (10 from typically developing children; 10 from children with spastic cerebral palsy). Two repetitions were acquired in each of the following approaches: (1) with the lower leg submerged in a water tank as a non-deformed reference; (2) probe-on-skin (PoS) as the conventional approach and (3) the newly introduced Portico. PoS and Portico data were registered with respect to the ones corresponding in a water tank. An in-house software package (Py3DFreeHandUS) was used to process the data and MG volume was estimated using MeVisLab. The minimal detectable change (MDC) was calculated. Results: With respect to the PoS approach, the Portico reduced muscle deformation by 46%. For both the typically developing and spastic cerebral palsy cohorts, lower MDCs were found when using the Portico. Discussion: Despite the improvements, the Portico did not yield statistically more reliable MG volume estimations than the traditional PoS approach. Further improvement can be attained by optimising the fit between the gel pad and the curvature of the limb, using a larger choice of Portico geometries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-200
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2018


  • 3D freehand ultrasound
  • Medial gastrocnemius
  • Muscle deformation
  • Reliability analysis
  • Subcutaneous tissue
  • Volume

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