Evaluation of Bone-Tendon Junction Healing Using Water Jet Ultrasound Indentation Method

Min Hua Lu, Yongping Zheng, Hong Bin Lu, Qing Hua Huang, Ling Qin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The re-establishment of bone-tendon junction (BTJ) tissues with the junction, characterized as a unique transitional fibrocartilage zone, is involved in many trauma and reconstructive surgeries. Experimental and clinical findings have shown that a direct BTJ repair requires a long period of immobilization, which may be associated with a postoperative weak knee. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the morphologic and mechanical properties of BTJ tissues in situ to better understand the healing process for the purpose of reducing the adverse effects of immobilization. We previously reported a noncontact ultrasound water jet indentation system for measuring and mapping tissue mechanical properties. The key idea was to utilize a water jet as an indenter as well as the coupling medium for high-frequency ultrasound. In this article, we used ultrasound water jet indentation to evaluate the BTJ healing process. The system's capability of measuring the material elastic modulus was first validated using tissue-mimicking phantoms. Then it was employed to assess the healing of the BTJ tissues after partial patellectomy over time on twelve 18-week-old female New Zealand White rabbits. It was found that in comparison with the normal control samples, the elastic modulus of the fibrocartilage of the postoperative samples was significantly smaller, while its thickness increased significantly. Among the postoperative sample groups, the elastic modulus of the fibrocartilage of the samples harvested at week 18 was significantly higher than those harvested at week 6 and week 12, which was even comparable with the value of the control samples at the same sacrifice time. The results suggested that the noncontact ultrasound water jet indentation system provided a nondestructive way to evaluate the material properties of small animal tissues in situ and thus had the ability to evaluate the healing process of BTJ. (E-mail: ypzheng@ieee.org).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1783-1793
Number of pages11
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009


  • Articular cartilage
  • Bone-to-tendon junction repair
  • Elasticity
  • Indentation
  • Soft tissue
  • Ultrasound
  • Ultrasound indentation
  • Water jet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics


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