A novel muscle biopsy clamp yields accurate in vivo sarcomere length values

Ward SR, Takahashi M, Winters TM, Kwan A, Lieber RL.
J Biomech, 2009 42(2):193-6. Epub 2008 Nov 25.


The measurement of in vivo muscle sarcomere length facilitates the definition of in vivo muscle functional properties and comparison of muscle designs amongst functional muscle groups. In vivo sarcomere lengths are available for just a handful of human muscles, largely due to the technical challenges associated with their measurement. The purpose of this report was to develop and test a muscle biopsy clamp that can quickly and accurately measure in vivo muscle sarcomere length. To test the device, muscle biopsies (n=23) were removed from the tibialis anterior muscles of New Zealand White rabbits immediately after sarcomere length measurements were made using laser diffraction. The muscle biopsy contained within the clamp was immediately fixed in Formalin for subsequent sarcomere length measurement. Comparisons of clamp-based and diffraction-based sarcomere lengths demonstrated excellent agreement between the two techniques, especially when the biopsy was obtained at relatively long lengths (above 2.6µm). Given the intraoperative speed and simplicity of this technique and the relatively low-cost of the biopsy clamp, this method of measuring muscle sarcomere length should help investigators generate much-needed in vivo muscle structural and functional data.

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