Ultrasound monitoring of patients with leg muscle atrophy

P. Capodaglio, L. Ciuffreda, D. Susta, M. Facioli, G. Notarangelo, M. V. Narici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. So far, the description of muscle atrophy in humans has been mostly based on changes in anatomical cross-sectional area (ACSA) measured at specific sites along the muscle belly by imaging techniques. However, there is experimental evidence of regional differences in muscle atrophy and therefore changes in the internal architecture of the muscle could go undetected on the basis of ACSA calculations. Skeletal muscles can be divided into roughly two categories: parallel muscles, whose muscle fibres are parallel to the tendon attached to the bone and are therefore on the traction axis of the muscle, and pennated muscles, whose fibres are connected to the tendinous sheet with an angle defined as the 'pennation angle'. In a previous study, we demonstrated that muscle atrophy led to a decrease in pennation angle and fibre length. The present study aimed demonstrate that to ultrasound may represent a simple, disposable non-invasive method to be used in rehabilitation medicine to assess muscle atrophy and monitoring changes in muscle architecture after rehabilitation. Methods. Ten patients (6 males, 4 females, 21-41 yrs.) with unilateral muscle atrophy were admitted to this study. Maximum anatomical CSA of the gastrocnemius medians (GM) was determined with CT scans of both legs. GM muscle fiber pennation angle and fiber length were measured in both legs in the same region of maximum CSA by real-time ultrasound with a 7.5 MHz, 4 cm long, linear probe. Maximal voluntary and electrically evoked torque of the plantar flexor muscles were measured. The twitch interpolation technique was also used. The measurements were repeated after a one month rehabilitation period in all of subject. Results. The mean pre-rehabilitation CSA was 17.8 cm2 in the unaffected limb and 16.7 cm2 in the affected limb; the post-rehabilitation values were 19.8 cm2 in the unaffected limb and 18.2 cm2 in the affected limb. Mean pennation angles differed by 11% (25.5% in the unaffected limb and 22.8% in the affected limb, p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-73
Number of pages5
JournalEuropa Medicophysica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Muscle atrophy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrasound monitoring of patients with leg muscle atrophy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this