Microgravity - Science and Technology

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 3–11 | Cite as

An ultrasonic methodology for muscle cross section measurement of support space flight

  • Thomas R. Hatfield
  • David M. Klaus
  • Steven J. Simske


The number one priority for any manned space mission is the health and safety of its crew. The study of the short and long term physiological effects on humans is paramount to ensuring crew health and mission success. One of the challenges associated in studying the physiological effects of space flight on humans, such as loss of bone and muscle mass, has been that of readily attaining the data needed to characterize the changes. The small sampling size of astronauts, together with the fact that most physiological data collection tends to be rather tedious, continues to hinder elucidation of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the observed changes that occur in space. Better characterization of the muscle loss experienced by astronauts requires that new technologies be implemented. To this end, we have begun to validate a 360° ultrasonic scanning methodology for muscle measurements and have performed empirical sampling of a limb surrogate for comparison. Ultrasonic wave propagation was simulated using 144 stations of rotated arm and calf MRI images. These simulations were intended to provide a preliminary check of the scanning methodology and data analysis before its implementation with hardware. Pulse-echo waveforms were processed for each rotation station to characterize fat, muscle, bone, and limb boundary interfaces. The percentage error between MRI reference values and calculated muscle areas, as determined from reflection points for calf and arm cross sections, was −2.179% and +2.129%, respectively. These successful simulations suggest that ultrasound pulse scanning can be used to effectively determine limb cross-sectional areas. Cross-sectional images of a limb surrogate were then used to simulate signal measurements at several rotation angles, with ultrasonic pulse-echo sampling performed experimentally at the same stations on the actual limb surrogate to corroborate the results. The objective of the surrogate sampling was to compare the signal output of the simulation tool used as a methodology validation for actual tissue signals. The disturbance patterns of the simulated and sampled waveforms were consistent. Although only discussed as a small part of the work presented, the sampling portion also helped identify important considerations such as tissue compression and transducer positioning for future work involving tissue scanning with this methodology.


Space Flight Rotation Station Muscle Volume Muscle Thickness Reflection Point 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Z-Tec Publishing 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas R. Hatfield
    • 1
  • David M. Klaus
    • 1
  • Steven J. Simske
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Aerospace Engineering SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Hewlett-Packard LabsFort CollinsUSA

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