Dynamic MR imaging of the skeletal muscle in young and senior volunteers during synchronized minimal neuromuscular electrical stimulation

MAGMA. 2020 Jun;33(3):393-400. doi: 10.1007/s10334-019-00787-7. Epub 2019 Oct 24.


Objective: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)-induced isometric contraction is feasible during MRI and can be combined with acquisition of volumetric dynamic MR data, in a synchronous and controlled way. Since NMES is a potent resource for rehabilitation, MRI synchronized with NMES presents a valuable validation tool. Our aim was to show how minimal NMES-induced muscle contraction characterization, as evaluated through phase-contrast MRI, differs between senior and young volunteers.

Materials and methods: Simultaneous NMES of the quadriceps muscle and phase-contrast imaging were applied at 3 T to 11 senior (75 ± 3 years) and 12 young volunteers (29 ± 7 years). A current sufficient to induce muscle twitch without knee extension was applied to both groups.

Results: Strain vectors were extracted from the velocity fields and strain datasets were compared with non-parametric tests and descriptive statistics. Strain values were noticeably different between both groups at both current intensities and significant differences were observed for similar current level.

Discussion: In conclusion, NMES-synchronized MRI could be successfully applied in senior volunteers with strain results clearly different from the younger volunteers. Also, differences within the senior group were detected both in the magnitude of strain and in the position of maximum strain pixels.

Keywords: Age; Electrical muscle stimulation; Phase-contrast sequence; Quadriceps muscle; Strain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / diagnostic imaging*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology
  • Young Adult