Dr Catherine Payne

Teaching Fellow in Sport and Exercise Sciences

Academic and research departments

School of Biosciences.


Otter, S., Payne, C., Jones, AM. et al. (2020) Differences in Achilles tendon stiffness in people with gout: a pilot study.



Gout has been associated with weaker foot/leg muscles and altered gait patterns. There is also evidence of on-going foot pain and an increased risk of tendinopathy, with the Achilles and patella tendons most frequently affected in gout. Additionally, the inflammation associated with gout may change tissue elasticity. Ultrasound imaging utilising shear wave elastography (SWE) offers a non-invasive method of quantifying changes in tendon stiffness. SWE findings have not previously been reported in individuals with gout. We sought to determine differences in Achilles tendon stiffness in people with gout compared to controls (non-gout).


A cross sectional study comparing 24 people with gout and 26 age/sex-matched controls. Clinical and demographic data were collated, and US imaging used to determine tendon thickness, presence of gouty tophi and/or aggregates and levels of angiogenesis. Ten shear wave elastography (SWE) measures were taken along the centre of a longitudinal section of the mid-portion of each Achilles tendon. Prior to data collection, intra-observer error was good (>0.69). Data were summarised using descriptive statistics and a repeated measures ANCOVA was used to compare SWE measures between the two groups for the left and right foot separately after accounting for Body Mass Index (BMI).


A small proportion of those with gout presented with intra-tendon aggregates and/or intra-tendon tophi in one or both tendons. There was no statistically significant difference in tendon thickness between groups. Neo-vascularity was present in a third of gout participants. SWE findings demonstrated significantly reduced tendon stiffness in those with gout compared to controls: right Achilles mdiff =1.04 m/s (95% CI (0.38 to 1.7) p = 0.003 and left Achilles mdiff = 0.7 m/s (95% CI 0.09 to 1.32) p = 0.025. No relationship between the presence of tophi and SWE values were detected.


Subjects with chronic gout show significantly reduced Achilles tendon stiffness compared to non-gout controls. From a clinical standpoint, our findings were similar to SWE measurements in subjects with Achilles tendinopathy and who did not have gout.

Payne, C., Watt, P. Webborn, N. (2018) Shear Wave Elastography Measures of the Achilles Tendon: Influence of Time of Day, Leg Dominance and the Impact of an Acute 30-Minute Bout of Running.


The mechanical properties of human tendons are likely to be influenced by factors known to affect elastic structures, including patterns of loading and unloading during the day. However, the exact scale and relevance of these variables to tendon stiffness remains unclear. The aim of this study was to (1) measure Achilles tendon (AT) stiffness over the course of the day, (2) examine AT stiffness between dominant and non-dominant standing leg tendons and (3) assess the impact of previous activity on AT stiffness. To assess the impact of time of day and leg dominance, 15 healthy participants (6 females, 9 males; mean age 28 ± 4 year, mean VISA-A score 99.0 ± 1.2) had shear wave elastography (SWE) measures taken at 08:00 h, 12:30 h and 17:00 h on both dominant and non-dominant legs. To assess the impact of exercise, 24 tendons were analysed (7 females, 5 males; mean age 27 ± 4 year, mean VISA-A Score 99.1 ± 1.1) with participants randomly assigned to either a control (CONT) group or a running (RUN) group. The RUN group performed a 30-min run at a subjective intensity of 13–15 on rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale and had SWE measures taken before, immediately after, 6 h 24 h, 48 h and 72 h following the run. There were no significant differences in AT stiffness over the course of a day or between dominant and non-dominant leg. Significant increases in AT stiffness were noted pre-post run (0.27 m/s, 2.95%, p = 0.037). Leg dominance does not affect SWE values from asymptomatic ATs or change throughout a day, but a 30-min run significantly increases AT stiffness. Leg dominance and timing of clinical appointments are unlikely to affect SWE results, however a prior bout of physical activity may cause changes within the AT resulting in a significantly different SWE measure. Clinicians and researchers should be cautious of interpreting SWE results if weight bearing exercise has been performed beforehand. View Full-Text

Keywords: Achilles tendon; shear wave elastography; ultrasound elastography; time of day; leg dominance; prior activity

Payne C, Watt P, Cercignani M, Webborn N. (2018) Reproducibility of shear wave elastography measures of the Achilles tendon.


Objective: To assess the reproducibility of shear wave elastography (SWE) measures in the Achilles tendon (AT) in vivo.

Materials and methods: Shear wave velocity (SWV) of 14 healthy volunteers [7 males, 7 females; mean age 26.5 ± 3.8 years, mean height 171.6 ± 10.9 cm, mean Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment Achilles questionnaire (VISA-A) score 99.4 ± 1.2] was measured with the foot relaxed and fixed at 90°. Data were collected over five consecutive measures and 5 consecutive days.

Results: Mean SWV values ranged from 7.91 m/s-9.56 m/s ± 0.27-0.50 m/s. Coefficient of variation (CV), correlations and intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) scores ranged from 2.9%-6.3%, 0.4-0.7 and 0.54-0.85 respectively. No significant differences were noted for longitudinal or transverse data with respect to protocol or time and no significant differences were noted for foot position in transverse data. Significant differences in SWV values were noted between foot positions for longitudinal scanning (p = <0.05), with a relaxed foot position providing SWV values on average 0.47 m/s faster than a fixed position. Increased reproducibility was obtained with the foot relaxed. ICC between operators was 0.70 for transverse and 0.80 for longitudinal scanning.

Conclusions: Reproducible SWE measures were obtained over a 1-h period as well as a period of 5 consecutive days with more reliable measures obtained from a longitudinal plane using a relaxed foot position. SWE also has a high level of agreement between operators making SWE a reproducible technique for quantitatively assessing the mechanical properties of the human AT in vivo.

Keywords: Achilles tendon; Elastography; Shear wave elastography; Ultrasound imaging.

Payne, C., Webborn, N., Watt, P. et al (2017) Poor reproducibility of compression elastography in the Achilles tendon: same day and consecutive day measurements.


Objective: To determine the reproducibility of compression elastography (CE) when measuring strain data, a measure of stiffness of the human Achilles tendon in vivo, over consecutive measures, consecutive days and when using different foot positions.

Materials and methods: Eight participants (4 males, 4 females; mean age 25.5 ± 2.51 years, range 21-30 years; height 173.6 ± 11.7 cm, range 156-189 cm) had five consecutive CE measurements taken on one day and a further five CE measures taken, one per day, at the same time of day, every day for a consecutive 5-day period. These 80 measurements were used to assess both the repeatability and reproducibility of the technique. Means, standard deviations, coefficient of variation (CV), Pearson correlation analysis (R) and intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) were calculated.

Results: For CE data, all CVs were above 53%, R values indicated no-to-weak correlations between measures at best (range 0.01-0.25), and ICC values were all classified in the poor category (range 0.00-0.11). CVs for length and diameter measures were acceptably low indicating a high level of reliability.

Conclusions: Given the wide variation obtained in the CE results, it was concluded that CE using this specific system has a low level of reproducibility for measuring the stiffness of the human Achilles tendon in vivo over consecutive days, consecutive measures and in different foot positions.

Keywords: Achilles tendon; Compression elastography; Elastography.