Technological advances of hand-held ultrasound devices and educational programmes for their use, such as point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) training, have contributed to the increasing application of these devices in clinical practice. With the greater impact of frailty and sarcopenia in aging societies, attention is being focused on the use of ultrasound for skeletal muscle assessment. In this narrative review, we discuss how ultrasound can be applied to skeletal muscle assessment, especially that of the quadriceps muscle, in clinical practice. Muscle thickness by ultrasound has been shown to have good reliability and validity for the evaluation of muscle size, and echo intensity has been used to evaluate muscle quality. Muscle ultrasound has not only been useful to diagnose sarcopenia in various settings, but has also been validated to predict health-related outcomes such as death and functional disability. Recommended methods for muscle ultrasound was published recently, and the results of future studies are expected to be comparable. Although several challenging issues with muscle ultrasound remain, if it could be incorporated into educational programmes such as POCUS training, more clinicians may be able to use ultrasound for skeletal muscle assessment in the future.KEY MESSAGESThe evolution of hand-held ultrasound devices enables physicians to perform ultrasound at the bedside as part of regular medical examinations.Muscle ultrasound is considered an effective tool for evaluating muscle size and quality, and has been studied in various settings.More clinicians may be able to evaluate skeletal muscle assessment with the development of educational programmes on muscle ultrasound in the future.
Keywords: Point-of-care ultrasonography; clinical practice; muscle ultrasound; sarcopenia.