Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Crawford et al. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. (2023) 24:664.


Open access.


Background Ultrasound is a powerful tool for diagnostic purposes and provides insight into both normal and pathologic tissue structure. Spatial frequency analysis (SFA) methods characterize musculoskeletal tissue organization from ultrasound images. Both sonographers in clinical imaging and researchers may alter a minimized range of ultrasound settings to optimize image quality, and it is important to know how these small adjustments of these settings affect SFA parameters. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of making small adjustments in a typical default ultrasound machine setting on extracted spatial frequency parameters (peak spatial frequency radius (PSFR), Mmax, Mmax%, and Sum) in the biceps femoris muscle.

Methods Longitudinal B-mode images were collected from the biceps femoris muscle in 36 participants. The window depth, foci locations, and gain were systematically adjusted consistent with clinical imaging procedures for a total of 27 images per participant. Images were analyzed by identifying a region of interest (ROI) in the middle portion of the muscle belly in a template image and using a normalized two-dimensional cross-correlation technique between the template image and subsequent images. The ROI was analyzed in the frequency domain using conventional SFA methods. Separate linear mixed effects models were run for each extracted parameter.

Results PSFR was affected by modifications in focus location only (p < 0.001) with differences noted between all locations. Mmax% was influenced by the interaction of gain and focus location (p < 0.001) but was also independently affected by increasing window depth (p < 0.001). Both Mmax and Sum parameters were sensitive to small changes in machine settings with the interaction of focus location and window depth (p < 0.001 for both parameters) as well as window depth and gain (p < 0.001 for both) influencing the extracted values.

Conclusions Frequently adjusted imaging settings influence some SFA statistics. PSFR and Mmax% appear to be most robust to small changes in image settings, making them best suited for comparison across individuals and between studies, which is appealing for the clinical utility of the SFA method.