A pilot study of neuromuscular ultrasound as a biomarker for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Muscle Nerve. 2019 Feb;59(2):181-186. doi: 10.1002/mus.26360. Epub 2018 Dec 18.


Introduction: This study explores the reliability and responsiveness of neuromuscular ultrasound in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Methods: Investigations were conducted with 10 healthy controls, 10 patients with ALS (single point in time), and 10 different patients with ALS (followed over 6 months; 4 completed follow-up). Ultrasound was used to measure the thickness of the geniohyoid, bilateral biceps/brachialis, bilateral tibialis anterior, and bilateral hemidiaphragms (at inspiration and expiration). Interrater and intrarater reliability and change in muscle thickness over 6 months were measured.

Results: Interrater correlation coefficients ranged between 0.80 and 0.99 in healthy controls and between 0.78 and 0.97 in patients with ALS. Intrarater correlation coefficients ranged between 0.83 and 0.98 in healthy controls. The mean percentage decline in muscle thickness over 6 months was 20.25%.

Discussion: Muscle ultrasound appears to be a reliable technique for measuring important muscles in patients with ALS. Larger studies with age-matched controls should be conducted to assess further the responsiveness of this biomarker in ALS. Muscle Nerve 59:181-186, 2019.

Keywords: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; biomarker; correlation; muscle; reliability; ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Correlation of Data
  • Diaphragm / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Vital Capacity
  • Young Adult