Homotypic variation of canine flexor tendons: implications for the design of experimental studies in animal models.
ABSTRACT Water, collagen and glycosamimoglycan contents, cross-sectional area, stiffness and elastic modulus were carefully quantitated in flexor digitorum superficialis tendons from mature canines. From these data the within- and between-animal variability was estimated and used to demonstrate sample size calculations for both two-group and paired (within-animal) study designs. The estimated between-dog variance was typically 50% or less of the total variance for the parameters investigated. In other words, the correlation among the tendons within an animal for most measures was not strong. Therefore, for some variables (e.g., elastic modulus) in this animal and tendon model, there is no appreciable gain in statistical power by using a paired study design. A two-group design could be used, but any within-animal correlation must be accounted for in the analysis. For other variables such as collagen content, a paired design would gain substantial power.