Morphometry of the human thigh muscles. A comparison between anatomical sections and computer tomographic and magnetic resonance images

J Anat. 1991 Jun;176:139-56.


The present study examined the relative accuracy and precision of MR and CT procedures for determining the CSA of individual muscles from the human thigh. Serial AN, CT and MR cross-sections were obtained from three cadaveric lower limbs. The MR measurements provided accurate and precise values for the CSAs of most thigh muscles, generally within +/- 7.5% of the AN standard. In contrast, CT tended systematically to overestimate the AN CSA by 10-20%. Retest procedures indicated that highly reliable measurements could be obtained from both MR and CT images. However, subjective interpretations of boundaries between closely apposed muscle bellies, particularly for muscles with more than one head, were necessary for resolving entities in the imaging records and this decreased the relative accuracy of MR and CT measures. Interestingly, MR records demonstrated an incomplete septum between vastus lateralis and vastus intermedius more prominently than AN cross-sections. The novel cross-validation procedures used in this study also highlighted several system-based errors in the MR records that, if undetected and left uncorrected, would have seriously biased the morphometric data obtained with this technique. In general, MR provides high resolution images of the human thigh muscles which may be used to obtain valid measures of the CSA of these structures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology*
  • Thigh / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*