Quantitative Ultrasound of the Biceps Tendon in Wheelchair Users and Non-Wheelchair Users

Jennifer L. Mercer BS1 , Michael L. Boninger MD1 , Bradley G. Impink BS1 , Brad D. Fullerton MD2
(1)Human Engineering Research Laboratories, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
Depts. of Bioengineering and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh
(2) The Patient-Physician Partnership, Austin, TX and Children’s Hospital of Austin


Manual wheelchair users have a high incidence of shoulder pathology. Hypertrophy of the long head of the biceps tendon (LHBT) and a more hypoechoic (darker) tendon appearance on ultrasound are symptoms of rotator cuff pathology. Using ultrasound images from adults with healthy tendons, models were created to predict the echogenicity of the LHBT. Wheelchair users with LHBT pathology, determined by a clinical ultrasound exam, tended to have tendons that appeared darker than predicted for a healthy tendon. Quantitative ultrasound techniques may be useful in determining tendon health. Examining changes in tendon width or echogenicity may provide an opportunity to test interventions designed to reduce shoulder loading during wheelchair propulsion and ultimately prevent chronic pathology.


shoulder; wheelchair; ultrasound; pathology; biceps tendon


This study was supported by the National Science Foundation (Graduate Research Fellowship), the US Department of VA Rehabilitation R&D Service (B3142C), and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Jennifer L. Mercer
7180 Highland Dr., Building 4,
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Phone: (412)365-4850;
email: jlmst147@pitt.edu


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