Intra-rater Reliability of Ultrasound Imaging of Wrist Extensor Muscles in Patients With Tetraplegia

Ashraf S. Gorgey, Mark K. Timmons, Lori A. Michener, Jeffery J. Ericksen, David R. Gater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: (i) To determine the intra-rater reliability and precision of the ultrasound cross-sectional area (CSA) measurements of the wrist extensors in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), and (ii) to determine whether tetraplegia has a negative influence on the reliability and precision for these measurements. Design: A repeated-measures cross-sectional study. Settings: Clinical hospital and academic settings. Methods: The study was conducted with 20 men with SCI (9 paraplegia and 11 tetraplegia) and 10 able-bodied controls. Ultrasound images were captured of the right side extensor carpi radialis-longus (ECRL) and the extensor digitorum communis (EDC) were captured in 2 sessions separated by 48-72 hours. Results: The intraclass correlation coefficients for the CSA measurements of the ECRL and EDC muscles were greater than 0.87 for all 3 groups. The standard error of the measure (SEM) ranged from 0.11-0.22 cm2 for the ECRL and 0.13-0.27 cm2 for the EDC. The minimal detectable change of ECL ranged from 0.16 to 0.31 cm2 and of EDC from 0.19 to 0.38 cm2. The group differences in muscle CSA of both muscles were found; these differences were greater than the calculated minimal detectable changes. The intraclass correlation coefficients were lower and the SEMs and minimal detectable changes were higher for the group with tetraplegia compared with the able-bodied controls and the group with paraplegia. Conclusions: This study documented substantial intra-rater reliability of measurements of the ECRL and ECD CSA by using ultrasound images, which support the use of this technique to effectively evaluate the musculoskeletal changes after SCI and during rehabilitation. Skeletal muscle atrophy in persons with tetraplegia might have a negative influence on the reliability and precision of these CSA measurements; however, these differences in reliability and precision are not of clinical significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalPM and R
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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