Musculoskeletal spectroscopy

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Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of skeletal muscle has been successfully applied by physiologists over several decades, particularly for studies of high-energy phosphates (by 31P-MRS) and glycogen (by 13C-MRS). Unfortunately, the observation of these heteronuclei requires equipment that is typically not available on clinical MR scanners, such as broadband capability and a second channel for decoupling and nuclear Overhauser enhancement (NOE). On the other hand, 1H-MR spectra of skeletal muscle can be acquired on many routine MR systems and also provide a wealth of physiological information. In particular, studies of intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) attract physiologists and endocrinologists because IMCL levels are related to insulin resistance and thus can lead to a better understanding of major health problems in industrial countries. The combination of 1H-, 13C-, and 31P-MRS gives access to the major long- and short-term energy sources of skeletal muscle. This review summarizes the technical aspects and unique MR-methodological features of the different nuclei. It reviews clinical studies that employed MRS of one or more nuclei, or combinations of MRS with other MR modalities. It also illustrates that MR spectra contain additional physiological information that is not yet used in routine clinical applications.

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