Original Article| Volume 45, P26-29, September 2017

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Ultrasound shear wave elastography in the assessment of passive biceps brachii muscle stiffness: influences of sex and elbow position


      • Trend towards higher passive stiffness of the BBM in women compared to men, which was significantly higher for the right arm
      • Significantly higher passive BBM stiffness at full extension of the elbow compared to 30° of flexion
      • High reliability and reproducibility in SWV measurements using ultrasound ARFI imaging



      To assess differences in biceps brachii muscle (BBM) stiffness as evaluated by ultrasound shear wave elastography (SWE).


      The passive stiffness of the BBM was quantified with shear wave velocity (SWV) measurements obtained from 10 healthy volunteers (5 men and 5 women, mean age 50 years, age range 42–63 years) with the elbow at full extension and 30° flexion in this IRB-approved study. Potential differences between two depths within the muscle, two elbow positions, the two arms, and sexes were assessed by using two-tailed t-test. The reproducibility of SWV measurements was tested by using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).


      Significantly higher passive BBM stiffness was found at full elbow extension compared to 30° of flexion (p ≤ 0.00006 for both arms). Significantly higher passive stiffness in women was seen for the right arm (p = 0.04 for both elbow positions). Good correlation of shear wave velocity measured at the different depths. The ICC for interobserver and intraobserver variation was high.


      SWE is a reliable quantitative tool for assessing BBM stiffness, with differences in stiffness based on elbow position demonstrated and based on sex suggested.


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