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Title: Mapping of back muscle stiffness along spine during standing and lying in young adults : a pilot study on spinal stiffness quantification with ultrasound imaging
Authors: Ma, CZH 
Ren, LJ 
Cheng, CLK 
Zheng, YP 
Issue Date: Dec-2020
Source: Sensors, 2 Dec. 2020, v. 20, no. 24, 7317
Abstract: Muscle stiffness in the spinal region is essential for maintaining spinal function, and might be related to multiple spinal musculoskeletal disorders. However, information on the distribution of muscle stiffness along the spine in different postures in large subject samples has been lacking, which merits further investigation. This study introduced a new protocol of measuring bilateral back muscle stiffness along the thoracic and lumbar spine (at T3, T7, T11, L1 & L4 levels) with both ultrasound shear-wave elastography (SWE) and tissue ultrasound palpation system (TUPS) in the lying and standing postures of 64 healthy adults. Good inter-/intra-reliability existed in the SWE and TUPS back muscle stiffness measurements (ICC >= 0.731, p < 0.05). Back muscle stiffness at the L4 level was found to be the largest in the thoracic and lumbar regions (p < 0.05). The back muscle stiffness of males was significantly larger than that of females in both lying and standing postures (p < 0.03). SWE stiffness was found to be significantly larger in standing posture than lying among subjects (p < 0.001). It is reliable to apply SWE and TUPS to measure back muscle stiffness. The reported data on healthy young adults in this study may also serve as normative reference data for future studies on patients with scoliosis, low back pain, etc.
Keywords: Back muscle stiffness
Shear-wave elastography (SWE)
Tissue ultrasound palpation system (TUPS)
S modulus
Publisher: Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI)
Journal: Sensors 
EISSN: 1424-8220
DOI: 10.3390/s20247317
Rights: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
The following publication Ma, C.Z.-H.; Ren, L.-J.; Cheng, C.L.-K.; Zheng, Y.-P. Mapping of Back Muscle Stiffness along Spine during Standing and Lying in Young Adults: A Pilot Study on Spinal Stiffness Quantification with Ultrasound Imaging. Sensors 2020, 20, 7317 is available at
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