Assessing muscular oxygenation during incremental exercise using near-infrared spectroscopy: Comparison of three different methods


Using continuous-wave near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), this study compared three different methods, namely the slope method (SM), the amplitude method (AM), and the area under the curve (AUC) method to determine the variations of intramuscular oxygenation level as a function of workload. Ten right-handed subjects (22±4 years) performed one isometric contraction at each of three different workloads (30 %, 50 % and 90 % of maximal voluntary strength) during a period of twenty seconds. Changes in oxyhemoglobin ($Δ$[HbO2]) and deoxyhemoglobin ($Δ$[HHb]) concentrations in the superficial flexor of fingers were recorded using continuous-wave NIRS. The results showed a strong consistency between the three methods, with standardized Cronbach alphas of 0.87 for $Δ$[HHb] and 0.95 for $Δ$[HbO2]. No significant differences between the three methods were observed concerning $Δ$[HHb] as a function of workload. However, only the SM showed sufficient sensitivity to detect a significant decrease in $Δ$[HbO2] between 30 % and 50 % of workload (p < 0.01). Among these three methods, the SM appeared to be the only method that was well adapted and sensitive enough to determine slight changes in $Δ$[HbO2]. Theoretical and methodological implications of these results are discussed.

Physiological Research