Fatigue Effects on the Lower Leg Muscle Architecture Using Diffusion Tensor MRI

Filipa João, Sérgio Alves, Mário Secca, Michael Noseworthy, António Veloso

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Proton density (PD) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are imaging techniques that enable the acquisition of data from living subjects that can be used in the fine-tuning of subject-specific models’ architectural parameters. The aim of this study was to determine the in vivo 3D architectural parameters (volume, pennation angle, fiber length and physiological cross-sectional area) of the gastrocnemius medialis, gastrocnemius lateralis, soleus and tibialis anterior muscles using proton density and diffusion tensor imaging data before and after an exhaustive one-legged jump exercise. These methods were used in the in vivo 3D data acquisition of six young and physically active female subjects’ lower legs, followed by a fiber-tracking algorithm and analysis tools. No significant differences were found in the muscles’ architecture after the exercise, with the following exceptions: the anatomical cross-section area of the gastrocnemius medialis increased (p-value 0.001, effect size 0.18) after exercise; the fiber lengths of the gastrocnemius medialis, lateralis and soleus muscles were higher after exercise (p-value 0.002, 0.001 and 0.001, respectively, and effect size 2.03, 1.29 and 0.85, respectively); and the soleus mean pennation angle decreased after exercise (p-value 0.0015, effect size 2.31). These changes (or lack thereof) could be attributed to the extended acquisition time of the MRI scans to minimize noise: by increasing the acquisition time, the effect of the exercise may have been partially lost due to muscle recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9767
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2022


  • biomechanics
  • calf muscles
  • cyclic exercise
  • imaging techniques
  • tractography


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