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Influence of Bias in the Assessment of Patellar Tendon Stiffness: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

      Abstract

      The aim of the present study was to provide a systematic review and meta-analysis of the main biases in practical applications of the different types of elastography in assessment of the stiffness of healthy patellar tendons. A literature search on four databases (Scopus, Web of Science, Pubmed and SportDiscus) was conducted on March 25, 2020. After analysis of 1,052 resultant articles, studies were included if they met two inclusion criteria: (1) studies were observational or randomized controlled trials; (2) studies included outcomes of patellar tendon stiffness. Twenty-one studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this meta-analysis. Four meta-analyses were performed with respect to assessment procedure and participant characteristics. This meta-analysis found a low effect of examined portion of patellar tendon (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.27, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.01–0.54, n = 379, Z = 2.01, p = 0.04) and a high effect of knee flexion angle during assessment (SMD = –2.12; 95% CI: –2.67 to –1.58, n = 97, Z = 7.68, p < 0.01) in stiffness outcomes. The risk of bias was generally low, but the heterogenicity of the results downgraded the level of evidence. There is evidence in the elastography assessment of patellar tendon suggesting that the knee position and patellar tendon portion evaluated influence stiffness outcomes for patellar tendon in healthy volunteers.

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