Introduction: The primary objectives of this study were to evaluate contractile and non-contractile content of lower leg muscles of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and determine the relationships between non-contractile content and functional abilities.
Methods: Lower leg muscles of thirty-two boys with DMD and sixteen age matched unaffected controls were imaged. Non-contractile content, contractile cross sectional area and non-contractile cross sectional area of lower leg muscles (tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, peroneal, medial gastrocnemius and soleus) were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Muscle strength, timed functional tests and the Brooke lower extremity score were also assessed.
Results: Non-contractile content of lower leg muscles (peroneal, medial gastrocnemius, and soleus) was significantly greater than control group (p<0.05). Non-contractile content of lower leg muscles correlated with Brooke score (rs = 0.64-0.84) and 30 feet walk (rs = 0.66-0.80). Dorsiflexor (DF) and plantarflexor (PF) specific torque was significantly different between the groups.
Discussion: Overall, non-contractile content of the lower leg muscles was greater in DMD than controls. Furthermore, there was an age dependent increase in contractile content in the medial gastrocnemius of boys with DMD. The findings of this study suggest that T1 weighted MR images can be used to monitor disease progression and provide a quantitative estimate of contractile and non-contractile content of tissue in children with DMD.