The purpose of this study was to validate ultrasound muscle volume estimation in vivo. To examine validity, vastus lateralis ultrasound images were collected from cadavers before muscle dissection; after dissection, the volumes were determined by hydrostatic weighing. Seven thighs from cadaver specimens were scanned using a 7.5-MHz ultrasound probe (SSD-1000, Aloka, Japan). The perimeter of the vastus lateralis was identified in the ultrasound images and manually digitized. Volumes were then estimated using the Cavalieri principle, by measuring the image areas of sets of parallel two-dimensional slices through the muscles. The muscles were then dissected from the cadavers, and muscle volume was determined via hydrostatic weighing. There was no statistically significant difference between the ultrasound estimation of muscle volume and that estimated using hydrostatic weighing (p > 0.05). The mean percentage error between the two volume estimates was 0.4% ± 6.9. Three operators all performed four digitizations of all images from one randomly selected muscle; there was no statistical difference between operators or trials and the intraclass correlation was high (>0.8). The results of this study indicate that ultrasound is an accurate method for estimating muscle volumes in vivo.
The authors are with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.