Magnetic resonance imaging of leg muscles in patients with myotonic dystrophies

J Neurol. 2017 Sep;264(9):1899-1908. doi: 10.1007/s00415-017-8574-0. Epub 2017 Jul 29.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of muscles has recently become a significant diagnostic procedure in neuromuscular disorders. There is a lack of muscle MRI studies in patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), especially type 2 (DM2). To analyze fatty infiltration of leg muscles, using 3.0 T MRI in patients with genetically confirmed DM1 and DM2 with different disease durations. The study comprised 21 DM1 and 10 DM2 adult patients. Muscle MRI was performed in axial plane of the lower limbs using T1-weighted (T1w) sequence. Six-point scale by Mercuri et al. was used. Fatty infiltration registered in at least one muscle of lower extremities was found in 71% of DM1 and 40% of DM2 patients. In DM1 patients, early involvement of the medial head of gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles was observed with later involvement of other lower leg muscles and of anterior and posterior thigh compartments with relative sparing of the rectus femoris. In DM2, majority of patients had normal MRI findings. Early involvement of lower legs and posterior thighs was found in some patients. Less severe involvement of the medial head of the gastrocnemius compared to other lower leg muscles was also observed, while involvement of proximal muscles was rather diffuse than selective. It seems that both in DM1 and DM2 some muscles may be affected before weakness is clinically noted and vice versa. We described characteristic pattern and way of progression of muscle involvement in DM1 and DM2.

Keywords: Fatty infiltration; Legs; Muscle magnetic resonance imaging; Myotonic dystrophy type 1; Myotonic dystrophy type 2; Progression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Leg / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / classification
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / diagnostic imaging*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric