A hand-held indentation system for the assessment of mechanical properties of soft tissues in vivo

Min Hua Lu, Winnie Yu, Qing Hua Huang, Yan Ping Huang, Yongping Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Quantitative assessment of the mechanical properties of soft tissues in vivo is required in both clinical and research fields. This paper introduces a hand-held indentation system that employed an electromagnetic spatial sensor as a displacement transducer. The system was pen-sized, portable, and easy to control. The accuracy and reliability of the system were investigated. The effect of indentation rate on the variation of the values of the measured effective Young's modulus was also studied. A series of elastomers with different Young's modulus (which ranged from 13.08 to 36.19 kPa) were assessed with both the hand-held indentation system and a Hounsfield material testing machine. Intraindividual and interindividual variations of the system were tested by five independent operators. The hand-held indentation system was applied to quantitatively assess the effective Young's modulus of human body parts in vivo. Twenty healthy female subjects aged 21.1 ± 1.8 years old were included for the in vivo test. The system was shown to be highly accurate (R2= 0.99) compared with the results obtained by the mechanical testing machine and had good reliability (intraindividual variation = 5.43%, and interindividual variation = 5.99%). The average effective Young's moduli of the region of umbilicus were 11.31 and 12.65 kPa for two different sites, respectively. It is believed that this hand-held indentations system was an accurate reliable tool for rapidly assessing the mechanical properties of human body tissues in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3079-3085
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2009


  • Elasticity
  • Electromagnetic spatial sensor
  • Indentation
  • Soft tissue
  • Ultrasound indentation
  • Young's modulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Cite this