Intracompartmental pressure in lower leg muscles and tibial nerve in healthy volunteers correlate to the stiffness measured using shear wave elastography


      • Shear wave elastography can non-invasively monitor intracompartment pressure.
      • Shear wave elastography can be implemented in compartments of the lower leg.
      • Stiffness from all compartments were positively correlated with cuff pressure level.
      • Stiffness of the tibial nerve was positively correlated with the cuff pressure level.



      Acute compartment syndrome in the lower leg is a painful condition characterized by an increase in intracompartmental pressure. To prevent misdiagnosis and delay in the recognition of the condition, which can lead to severe complications, continuous monitoring of intracompartmental pressure for at least 24 h. from the onset of initial symptoms has been recommended. The purpose of the current study was to establish shear wave elastography as a potential imaging biomarker for the observed increase in pressure in four compartments of the lower leg.


      Eighteen healthy participants (9 males) without any injury in their leg muscles were recruited for the study after internal review board approval. Subjects were instructed to sit on a table and pressures at 60, 90, and 120 mmHg were applied using a pressure cuff placed above the proximal pole of the patella. Shear wave elastography-measured stiffness outcomes at baseline (0 mmHg) and at each cuff pressure level were obtained from the tibialis anterior, the peroneus longs, gastrocnemius medialis, and tibialis posterior muscles, as well as the tibial nerve.


      Spearman's rank correlation coefficient showed strong correlations between shear wave elastography-measured stiffness from all four muscles and cuff pressure levels (r > 0.80, P < 0.05). Stiffness from the tibial nerve was also significantly correlated with cuff pressure levels (r > 0.99, P < 0.05).


      Shear wave elastography imaging of lower leg muscles and nerve can be useful to non-invasively monitor intracompartmental pressure in patients suspected of acute compartment syndrome.


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