BackgroundResearch on the degradation of silk fibroin (SF) scaffolds in vivo lacks uniform and effective standards and experimental evaluation methods. This study aims to evaluate the application of ultrasound in assessing the degradation of SF scaffolds.MethodsTwo groups of three-dimensional regenerated SF scaffolds (3D RSFs) were implanted subcutaneously into the backs of Sprague-Dawley rats. B-mode ultrasound and hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining were performed on days 3, 7, 14, 28, 56, 84, 112, 140, and 196. The cross-sectional areas for two groups of 3D RSFs that were obtained using these methods were semi-quantitatively analyzed and compared to evaluate the biodegradation of the implanted RSFs.ResultsThe 3D RSFs in the SF-A group were wholly degraded at the 28th week after implantation. In contrast, the 3D RSFs in the SF-B group were completely degraded at the 16th week. Ultrasonic examination showed that the echoes of 3D RSFs in both groups gradually decreased with the increase of the implantation time. In the early stages of degradation, the echoes of the samples were higher than the echo of the muscle. In the middle of degeneration, the echoes were equal to the echo of the muscle. In the later stage, the echoes of the samples were lower than that of the muscle. The above changes in the SF-B group were earlier than those in the SF-A group. Semi-quantitative analysis of the cross-sectional areas detected using B-mode ultrasound revealed that the degradations of the two 3D RSF groups were significantly different. The degradation rate of the SF-B group was found to be higher than that of the SF-A group. This was consistent with the semi-quantitative detection results for HE staining. Regression analysis showed that the results of the B-mode ultrasound and HE staining were correlated in both groups, indicating that B-mode ultrasound is a reliable method to evaluate the SF scaffold degradation in vivo.ConclusionsThis study suggests that B-mode ultrasound can clearly display the implanted SF scaffolds non-invasively and monitor the degradation of the different SF scaffolds after implantation in living organisms in real-time.