Seated buttocks anatomy and its impact on biomechanical risk

Sharon Sonenblum, Davin Seol, Stephen Sprigle, John Cathcart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: The objective of this study was to describe the amount, types, and shapes of tissue present in the buttocks during sitting (i.e., seated buttocks soft tissue anatomy), and the impact of seated buttocks soft tissue anatomy on biomechanical risk. 

Materials and methods: The buttocks of 35 people, including 29 full-time wheelchair users with and without a history of pelvic pressure ulcers were scanned sitting upright on 3” of flat HR45 foam in a FONAR Upright MRI. Multi-planar scans were analyzed to calculate bulk tissue thickness, tissue composition, gluteus maximus coverage at the ischium, the contour of the skin, and pelvic tilt. 

Results: Bulk tissue thickness varied from 5.6 to 32.1 mm, was composed mostly of adipose tissue, and was greatest in the able-bodied cohort. Skin contours varied significantly across status group, with wheelchair users with a history of pressure ulcers having tissue with a peaked contour with a radius of curvature of 65.9 mm that wrapped more closely to the ischium (thickness at the apex = 8.2 mm) as compared to wheelchair users with no pressure ulcer history (radius of curvature = 91.5 mm and apex thickness = 14.5 mm). Finally, the majority of participants presented with little to no gluteus coverage over their ischial tuberosity, regardless of status group. 

Conclusions: This study provides quantitative evidence that Biomechanical Risk, or the intrinsic characteristic of an individual's soft tissues to deform in response to extrinsic applied forces, is greater in individuals at greater risk for pressure ulcers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberJTV_2019_87_R1
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Tissue Viability
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 May 2020


  • Pressure ulcer
  • MRI
  • Tissue deformation
  • Buttocks
  • Biomechanical
  • Risk Contour


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