Mechanical Response Tissue Analysis: Inter- and Intra-trial Reliability in Assessing Bending Stiffness of the Human Tibia in College Aged Women
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Mechanical Response Tissue Analysis (MRTA) is an emerging technology for assessing maximal bending stiffness (EI) of human long bones in vivo. The MRTA variable, EI, is the product of Young's modulus of elasticity (E) and cross-sectional moment of inertia (I). EI quantifies material and architectural/geometric properties of bone. Published human research using MRTA to measure EI has been limited to the ulna; however, the tibia requires further investigation due to its central involvement in many human activities and exercise-related clinical problems, e.g. stress fracture of the lower leg. To evaluate the inter- and intra-reliability of tibial EI, 22 healthy women (X + SD: 20.8 + 1.8 yr) were assessed twice daily for three non-consecutive days. Each daily session consisted of five repeated trials. The ulnar EI protocol of McCabe et al. [J Bone and Mineral Res. 1991;6(1):53-59] was adapted to assess tibial EI via MRTA. A significant difference was not found in scores for five repeated trials taken consecutively on the same day. Mean scores for EI were higher on day 1 (59.1 ± 35.5 N·m2, p < 0.05), compared to day 2 (46.9 ± 22.3) and day 3 (49.9 ± 18.3). Individual trial mean scores for EI on each day (mean of 5 trials) were highly correlated, R2 = 0.84, 0.62, and 0.79 (set 1 vs. 2, for day 1,2,3, respectively) and the average percent change between sets 1 and 2 on each day was 5.3. The inter-test (between day) reproducibility was found to be low and unacceptable, 11.7, 18.3, and 1.3%, for day 1 vs. 2, 1 vs. 3, and 2 vs. 3. Poor inter-day reliability may be a result of the inability, at the time of this study, to apply the best computational EI model. It is concluded that tibial bone stiffness measurements with the MRTA are in the range of acceptability for same day inter- and intra-trial reliability when the 7-parameter analytic model of vibratory properties developed by McCabe et al. is used.
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