Muscle ultrasound in neuromuscular disorders

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Abstract

Muscle ultrasound is a useful tool in the diagnosis of neuromuscular disorders, as these disorders result in muscle atrophy and intramuscular fibrosis and fatty infiltration, which can be visualized with ultrasound. Several prospective studies have reported high sensitivities and specificities in the detection of neuromuscular disorders. Although not investigated in large series of patients, different neuromuscular disorders tend to show specific changes on muscle ultrasound, which can be helpful in differential diagnosis. For example, Duchenne muscular dystrophy results in a severe, homogeneous increase of muscle echo intensity with normal muscle thickness, whereas spinal muscular atrophy shows an inhomogeneous increase of echo intensity with severe atrophy. A major advantage of muscle ultrasound, compared to other imaging techniques, is its ability to visualize muscle movements, such as muscle contractions and fasciculations. This study reviews the possibilities and limitations of ultrasound in muscle imaging and its value as a diagnostic tool in neuromuscular disorders.

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