This study aimed 1) to determine whether talar cartilage deformation measured via ultrasonography (US) after standing and hopping loading protocols differs between chronic ankle instability (CAI) patients and healthy controls and 2) to determine whether the US measurement of cartilage deformation reflects viscoelasticity between standing and hopping protocols.
A total of 30 CAI and 30 controls participated. After a 60-min off-loading period, US images of the talar cartilage were acquired before and after static (2-min single-leg standing) and dynamic (60 single-leg forward hops) loading conditions. We calculated cartilage deformation by assessing the change in average thickness (mm) for overall, medial, and lateral talar cartilage. The independent variables include time (Pre60 and postloading), condition (standing and dynamic loading), and group (CAI and control). A three-way mixed-model repeated-measures ANCOVA and appropriate post hoc tests were used to compare cartilage deformation between the groups after static and dynamic loading.
After the static loading condition, those with CAI had greater talar cartilage deformation compared with healthy individuals for overall (−10.87% vs −6.84%, P = 0.032) and medial (−12.98% vs −5.80%, P = 0.006) talar cartilage. Similarly, the CAI group had greater deformation relative to the control group for overall (−8.59% vs −3.46%, P = 0.038) and medial (−8.51% vs −3.31%, P = 0.043) talar cartilage after the dynamic loading condition. In the combined cohort, cartilage deformation was greater after static loading compared with dynamic in overall (−8.85% vs −6.03%, P = 0.003), medial (−9.38% vs −5.91%, P = 0.043), and lateral (−7.90% vs −5.65%, P = 0.009) cartilage.
US is capable of detecting differences in cartilage deformation between those with CAI and uninjured controls after standardized physiologic loads. Across both groups, our results demonstrate that static loading results in greater cartilage deformation compared with dynamic loading.