Faculté des Sciences appliquées
Faculté des Sciences appliquées

Adaptation to achilles tendon insertion in human calcaneus bone sample

Gaillard, Valentine ULiège
Promotor(s) : Ruffoni, Davide ULiège
Date of defense : 4-Sep-2023/5-Sep-2023 • Permalink :
Title : Adaptation to achilles tendon insertion in human calcaneus bone sample
Translated title : [fr] L'adaptation du calcaneum humain à l'insertion du tendon d'Achilles
Author : Gaillard, Valentine ULiège
Date of defense  : 4-Sep-2023/5-Sep-2023
Advisor(s) : Ruffoni, Davide ULiège
Committee's member(s) : Kaux, Jean-François ULiège
Dall'Ara, Enrico 
Language : English
Number of pages : 88
Keywords : [en] Enthesis
[en] Calcaneus
[en] Microarchitecture
[en] Bone adaptation
Discipline(s) : Engineering, computing & technology > Multidisciplinary, general & others
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en ingénieur civil biomédical, à finalité spécialisée
Faculty: Master thesis of the Faculté des Sciences appliquées


[en] The attachment of soft tissues to bone occurs through a complex multi-tissue region called enthesis.
Entheses have the challenging task to allow a smooth transmission of forces from very dissimilar tissues.
Indeed, soft tissues such as tendons differ from bone not only in material properties, but also in
composition and structure. Many remarkable adaptation strategies are present to manage this intricate
mechanical environment, including the presence of a thin layer of fibrocartilage. However, despite the
numerous joint pathologies involving the enthesis, there are still a lot of unknown about this region,
especially regarding the behaviour of bone beneath the insertion of the tendon.
Building on previous research on enthesis in rodents, this thesis proposes a framework for analysing
the structural adaptations of bone at the enthesis, focusing on the Achilles tendon-calcaneus system in
human samples. Our project is based on a combination of clinical and research X-ray tomographs allowing
for different resolutions and fields of view. Our aims are to provide workflows to investigate human
calcaneus morphology using high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography combined with
micro-computed tomography, as well as to compare adaptation strategies at the same location in humans
and rats.
First, high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography provided an initial overview of calcaneal
microarchitecture. Following a specific image segmentation protocol based on standard filters and
morphological operators, a spatially resolved study of bone architecture was performed. The results revealed
notable adaptations in both bone density and orientation within the trabecular bone beneath the
enthesis. Indeed, despite an heterogenous distribution of local bone density within the calcaneus, even
with regions showing very low values, in all samples the bone density at the insertion region seemed
to be preserved, and trabeculae were shown to be thicker than away from the insertion, and to align
preferentially towards the direction of the tendon.
Secondly, a localised examination of the enthesis and periosteal regions was conducted exploiting microcomputed
tomography. The observed global anisotropy in trabecular orientation was confirmed through
a local analysis involving the skeletonisation of the trabecular network, enabling to assess the morphology
of each trabecula individually. Moreover, this characterization highlighted that the longer were the
trabeculae, the higher was their alignment.
These findings suggest that, similarly to rodents, human calcaneus bone is showing specific and adaptive
three-dimensional microstructure at the insertion of the Achilles tendon. Interestingly, where rodents
exhibit anisotropy in vascular and fibre structure, in humans, this adaptation occurs at a higher length
scale, through the alignment of the trabeculae. Further investigations should extend these observations to
populations with varying ages and genders, as well as joint pathologies, in order to validate and generalise
the observed strategies.



Access TFE_versionfinal.pdf
Size: 59.39 MB
Format: Adobe PDF


  • Gaillard, Valentine ULiège Université de Liège > Master ing. civ. biomed., à fin.


Committee's member(s)

  • Kaux, Jean-François ULiège Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences de la motricité > Médecine physique, réadaptation et traumatologie du sport
    ORBi View his publications on ORBi
  • Dall'Ara, Enrico
  • Total number of views 37
  • Total number of downloads 6

All documents available on MatheO are protected by copyright and subject to the usual rules for fair use.
The University of Liège does not guarantee the scientific quality of these students' works or the accuracy of all the information they contain.