Muscle ultrasound analysis: normal values and differentiation between myopathies and neuropathies

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2003 Feb;29(2):215-25. doi: 10.1016/s0301-5629(02)00758-5.


In this study, 145 healthy adults (20 to 94 years old, 69 women) were examined using ultrasound (US) imaging to obtain reference values of muscle parameters that were previously not available. We measured biceps and quadriceps sizes and subcutaneous fat thickness. To quantify muscle aspect, we defined and calculated the muscle aspect parameters muscle density, inhomogeneity and white-area index by digital image analysis. All muscle aspect parameters were found to increase with age, which may be due to age-related muscle replacement by fatty tissue and collagen. Other age-, weight- and gender-dependencies are also discussed. The complete set of muscle parameters was used to differentiate between typical myopathies and neuropathies in a group of 32 patients (24 to 79 years old, 18 women). We were successful in almost completely separating the two types of disorders based on abnormality of muscle aspect parameters alone. These preliminary results show that this set of normal muscle parameters can be used to help diagnose neuromuscular disorders. It will also facilitate follow-up in disease progression and therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arm
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Reference Values
  • Sex
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Thigh
  • Ultrasonography