Relative strengths of the calf muscles based on MRI volume measurements

Clifford L. Jeng, Gaurav K. Thawait, John Y. Kwon, Antonio Machado, James W. Boyle, John Campbell, John A. Carrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: In 1985, Silver et al. published a cadaver study which determined the relative order of strength of the muscles in the calf. Muscle strength, which is proportional to volume, was obtained by dissecting out the individual muscles, weighing them, and then multiplying by the specific gravity. No similar studies have been performed using in vivo measurements of muscle volume. Methods: Ten normal subjects underwent 3- Tesla MRI's of both lower extremities using non-fat-saturated T2 SPACE sequences. The volume for each muscle was determined by tracing the muscle contour on sequential axial images and then interpolating the volume using imaging software. Results: The results from this study differ from Silver's original article. The lateral head of the gastrocnemius was found to be stronger than the tibialis anterior muscle. The FHL and EDL muscles were both stronger than the peroneus longus. There was no significant difference in strength between the peroneus longus and brevis muscles. Conclusion: This revised order of muscle strengths in the calf based on in vivo MRI findings may assist surgeons in determining the optimal tendons to transfer in order to address muscle weakness and deformity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-399
Number of pages6
JournalFoot and Ankle International
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Calf muscles
  • MRI
  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle volume
  • Relative strength
  • Tendon transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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