This study aimed to determine the relative and absolute reliability of ultrasound (US) measurements of the thickness and echogenicity of the plantar fascia (PF) at different measurement stations along its length using a standardized protocol. Twelve healthy subjects (24 feet) were enrolled. The PF was imaged in the longitudinal plane. Subjects were assessed twice to evaluate the intra-rater reliability. A quantitative evaluation of the thickness and echogenicity of the plantar fascia was performed using Image J, a digital image analysis and viewer software. A sonography evaluation of the thickness and echogenicity of the PF showed a high relative reliability with an Intra class correlation coefficient of ≥0.88 at all measurement stations. However, the measurement stations for both the PF thickness and echogenicity which showed the highest intraclass correlation coefficient (ICCs) did not have the highest absolute reliability. Compared to other measurement stations, measuring the PF thickness at 3 cm distal and the echogenicity at a region of interest 1 cm to 2 cm distal from its insertion at the medial calcaneal tubercle showed the highest absolute reliability with the least systematic bias and random error. Also, the reliability was higher using a mean of three measurements compared to one measurement. To reduce discrepancies in the interpretation of the thickness and echogenicity measurements of the PF, the absolute reliability of the different measurement stations should be considered in clinical practice and research rather than the relative reliability with the ICC.
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