Ultrasound imaging and muscle function

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Aug;41(8):572-80. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2011.3682. Epub 2011 Jun 7.


There is a growing trend in the physical therapy profession to use conventional grayscale brightness (B-mode) ultrasound imaging (USI) as a tool to assess the morphological (form and structure) and morphometric (measures of form) characteristics of muscle, and to use these findings to draw conclusions regarding muscle function. This trend is reflected in numerous published investigations. As many physical therapists may lack training in the principles and instrumentation underlying USI use, it is critical that therapists gain a clear understanding of the information that USI can, and cannot, provide about muscle function before employing the technique for either research or clinical applications. Failure to do so may result in the propagation of inaccurate terminology and beliefs. This paper aims to clarify the role that USI has in the assessment of muscle function, first, by briefly reviewing how conventional grayscale B-mode ultrasound images and clips are generated, and second, by summarizing the types of information that these images can provide. It also discusses the various factors that need to be considered when interpreting a dynamic USI assessment of muscle specifically as it relates to the assessment of muscle function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / trends
  • Recovery of Function
  • Ultrasonography