Ultrasound assessment of sarcopenia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Mod Rheumatol. 2022 Jul 1;32(4):728-735. doi: 10.1093/mr/roab049.


Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of ultrasound (US) as a diagnostic tool for sarcopenia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Female RA patients aged >50 years and matched controls were cross-sectionally assessed. Sarcopenia was diagnosed based on the 2019-updated Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia definition. The cross-sectional area (CSA) and echo intensity (EI) of the biceps brachii, rectus femoris, and EI of the vastus lateralis were examined bilaterally. Correction for subcutaneous fat and calculation of the recorrected EI (rcEI) were performed. We performed logistic regression using both muscle rcEI and CSA with receiver operating curve analysis to evaluate the discriminative performance per muscle group.

Results: Seventy-eight consecutive RA patients and 15 age-and sex-matched controls were assessed. Sarcopenia was diagnosed in 34 RA patients (43.6%). The rcEI of examined muscles were significantly higher, whereas CSA were significantly lower in sarcopenic RA patients than in non-sarcopenic patients and matched controls. The combined discriminative performance of rcEI and CSA was superior to those of rcEI or CSA alone.

Conclusions: This study suggests the use of US for the diagnosis of sarcopenia in RA patients. The diagnostic performance increases when both echogenicity and CSA are considered together rather than individually.

Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis; sarcopenia; skeletal muscle; ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Sarcopenia* / complications
  • Sarcopenia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography