Novel Applications of Ultrasound Technology to Visualize and Characterize Myofascial Trigger Points and Surrounding Soft Tissue

  • Sikdar S
  • Shah J
  • Gebreab T
 et al. 
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Sikdar S, Shah JP, Gebreab T, Yen R-H, Gilliams E, Danoff J, Gerber LH. Novel applications of ultrasound technology to visualize and characterize myofascial trigger points and surrounding soft tissue. Objective: To apply ultrasound (US) imaging techniques to better describe the characteristics of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) and the immediately adjacent soft tissue. Design: Four sites in each patient were labeled based on physical examination as active myofascial trigger points (A-MTrPs; spontaneously painful), latent myofascial trigger points (L-MTrPs; nonpainful), or normal myofascial tissue. US examination was performed on each subject by a team blinded to the physical findings. A 12∼5MHz US transducer was used. Vibration sonoelastography (VSE) was performed by color Doppler variance imaging while simultaneously inducing vibrations (∼92Hz) with a handheld massage vibrator. Each site was assigned a tissue imaging score as follows: 0, uniform echogenicity and stiffness; 1, focal hypoechoic region with stiff nodule; 2, multiple hypoechoic regions with stiff nodules. Blood flow in the neighborhood of MTrPs was assessed using Doppler imaging. Each site was assigned a blood flow waveform score as follows: 0, normal arterial flow in muscle; 1, elevated diastolic flow; 2, high-resistance flow waveform with retrograde diastolic flow. Setting: Biomedical research center. Participants: Subjects (N=9) meeting Travell and Simons' criteria for MTrPs in a taut band in the upper trapezius. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: MTrPs were evaluated by (1) physical examination, (2) pressure algometry, and (3) three types of US imaging including gray-scale (2-dimensional [2D] US), VSE, and Doppler. Results: MTrPs appeared as focal, hypoechoic regions on 2D US, indicating local changes in tissue echogenicity, and as focal regions of reduced vibration amplitude on VSE, indicating a localized, stiff nodule. MTrPs were elliptical, with a size of .16±.11cm2. There were no significant differences in size between A-MTrPs and L-MTrPs. Sites containing MTrPs were more likely to have a higher tissue imaging score compared with normal myofascial tissue (P

Author-supplied keywords

  • Myofascial pain syndromes
  • Rehabilitation
  • Sonoelastography
  • Trigger points, myofascial
  • Ultrasonography

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  • Siddhartha Sikdar

  • Jay P. Shah

  • Tadesse Gebreab

  • Ru Huey Yen

  • Elizabeth Gilliams

  • Jerome Danoff

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