The purpose of this study was to assess leg muscle quality and give a detailed description of leg muscle involvement in a series of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients using quantitative MRI and strength measurements. Fatty infiltration, as well as total and contractile (not fatty infiltrated) cross sectional areas of various leg muscles were determined in 16 Duchenne patients and 11 controls (aged 8-15). To determine specific muscle strength, four leg muscle groups (quadriceps femoris, hamstrings, anterior tibialis and triceps surae) were measured and related to the amount of contractile tissue. In patients, the quadriceps femoris showed decreased total and contractile cross sectional area, attributable to muscle atrophy. The total, but not the contractile, cross sectional area of the triceps surae was increased in patients, corresponding to hypertrophy. Specific strength decreased in all four muscle groups of Duchenne patients, indicating reduced muscle quality. This suggests that muscle hypertrophy and fatty infiltration are two distinct pathological processes, differing between muscle groups. Additionally, the quality of remaining muscle fibers is severely reduced in the legs of Duchenne patients. The combination of quantitative MRI and quantitative muscle testing could be a valuable outcome parameter in longitudinal studies and in the follow-up of therapeutic effects.
Keywords: Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Muscle quality; Quantitative MRI.
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