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    The human patellar tendon moment arm assessed in vivo using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry

    Erskine, Robert M., Morse, Christopher I., Day, Stephen H., Williams, Alun G. and Onambele-Pearson, Gladys L. (2014) The human patellar tendon moment arm assessed in vivo using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Journal of biomechanics, 47 (6). pp. 1294-1298. ISSN 0021-9290

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    Accurate assessment of muscle–tendon forces in vivo requires knowledge of the muscle–tendon moment arm. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) can produce 2D images suitable for visualising both tendon and bone, thereby potentially allowing the moment arm to be measured but there is currently no validated DXA method for this purpose. The aims of this study were (i) to compare in vivo measurements of the patellar tendon moment arm (dPT) assessed from 2D DXA and magnetic resonance (MR) images and (ii) to compare the reliability of the two methods. Twelve healthy adults (mean±SD: 31.4±9.5 yr; 174.0±9.5 cm; 76.2±16.6 kg) underwent two DXA and two MR scans of the fully extended knee at rest. The tibiofemoral contact point (TFCP) was used as the centre of joint rotation in both techniques, and the dPT was defined as the perpendicular distance from the patellar tendon axis to the TFCP. The dPT was consistently longer when assessed via DXA compared to MRI (+3.79±1.25 mm or +9.78±3.31%; P<0.001). The test–retest reliability of the DXA [CV=2.13%; ICC=0.94; ratio limits of agreement (RLA)=1.01 (/÷1.07)] and MR [(CV=2.27%; ICC=0.96; RLA=1.00 (/÷1.07)] methods was very high and comparable between techniques. Moreover, the RLA between the mean DXA and MRI dPT values [1.097 (/÷1.061)] demonstrated very strong agreement between the two methods. In conclusion, highly reproducible dPT measurements can be determined from DXA imaging with the knee fully extended at rest. This has implications for the calculation of patellar tendon forces in vivo where MR equipment is not available.

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