My research: The thesis explores the relatively new addition of shear wave elastography to the imaging market, with particular reference to it’s use in the imaging of the Achilles tendon. Shear wave elastography assesses the mechanical properties of soft tissues and can provide a measure of stiffness within tendons that has previously been difficult to obtain.
The experimental studies within the thesis help demonstrate the reliability of the technique and establish best practice. Further studies establish the influence of varying external factors on a measurement obtained with shear wave elastography, including foot position, time of day and whether a previous acute bout of exercise will affect a measurement.
After establishing a protocol, the thesis applies the technique to the commonly encountered clinical setting of Achilles tendinopathy. The final study is a longitudinal rehabilitation study assessing how shear wave elastography fits alongside other traditional clinical outcome measures. It traces a cohort of patients presenting with Achilles tendinopathy through a rehabilitation programme of eccentric exercises. Regular measures are made throughout the programme and include follow up measures up to 6 months after the programme.
The thesis adds support for the addition of shear wave elastography into the imaging routine used by clinicians. It can offer a quick, easy and non-invasive way to image the stiffness and therefore health and quality of an in vivo tendon and could improve our current knowledge of tendons and tendinopathy as well as potentially allowing for earlier diagnosis and/or more thorough assessment of rehabilitation.
Funder: University of Brighton