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Are Current Measurements of Lower Extremity Muscle Architecture Accurate?

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Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research

Abstract

Skeletal muscle architecture is defined as the arrangement of fibers in a muscle and functionally defines performance capacity. Architectural values are used to model muscle-joint behavior and to make surgical decisions. The two most extensively used human lower extremity data sets consist of five total specimens of unknown size, gender, and age. Therefore, it is critically important to generate a high-fidelity human lower extremity muscle architecture data set. We disassembled 27 muscles from 21 human lower extremities to characterize muscle fiber length and physiologic cross-sectional area, which define the excursion and force-generating capacities of a muscle. Based on their architectural features, the soleus, gluteus medius, and vastus lateralis are the strongest muscles, whereas the sartorius, gracilis, and semitendinosus have the largest excursion. The plantarflexors, knee extensors, and hip adductors are the strongest muscle groups acting at each joint, whereas the hip adductors and hip extensors have the largest excursion. Contrary to previous assertions, two-joint muscles do not necessarily have longer fibers than single-joint muscles as seen by the similarity of knee flexor and extensor fiber lengths. These high-resolution data will facilitate the development of more accurate musculoskeletal models and challenge existing theories of muscle design; we believe they will aid in surgical decision making.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Anatomical Services Department at the University of California San Diego. Specifically, the assistance of Rick Wilson, Lola Hernandez, and Mark Gary made this project possible.

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Correspondence to Richard L. Lieber PhD.

Additional information

Two of the authors (SRW, RLL) have received funding from National Institutes of Health Grants HD048501 and HD050837 and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Each author certifies that his or her institution has approved or waived approval for the human protocol for this investigation and that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research.

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Ward, S.R., Eng, C.M., Smallwood, L.H. et al. Are Current Measurements of Lower Extremity Muscle Architecture Accurate?. Clin Orthop Relat Res 467, 1074–1082 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11999-008-0594-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11999-008-0594-8

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