Quantitative muscle ultrasound (QMUS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can both be used to track the progression and response to treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Ultrasound. The specific needs and goals of a specific research project determine which method should be used. 

In order to assess the suitability of the 2 approaches in patients with DMD, a team of researchers led by Lin Zou PhD, conducted a longitudinal, observational cohort study in 36 DMD patients. All patients were treated with prednisone from baseline to month 12. 

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The researchers measured the thickness and echo intensity of the boys’ right rectus femoris on QMUS and T1-weighted MRI grading. Only 21 of the boys underwent MRI while the rest did not, for various reasons. 

The results showed that there was a significant correlation between the scores for muscle thickness and echo intensity in QMUS and T1-weighted MRI grading and the clinical characteristics of muscle strength, timed testing, and quality of life.

There was also a good correlation between the muscle thickness and echo intensity scores on QMUS and the T1-weighted MRI grading.

“QMUS and MRI can be used as biomarkers for tracking DMD to some extent,” the researchers concluded. “Both have strengths and weaknesses and the specific needs and goals of the clinical or research project are what make one preferable to the other.”

DMD is caused by a mutation in the DMD gene, which encodes for the dystrophin protein. This protein acts as a shock absorber during muscle contraction so in its absence due to the mutation muscle tissue gets damaged at each contraction and is replaced by fat and scar tissue.

Because the DMD gene is located on the X chromosome, the disease mostly affects boys. 

Reference

Hu J, Jiang L, Hong S, et al. Quantitative muscle ultrasound in children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy: Comparing to magnetic resonance imaging. J Clin Ultrasound. Published online November 30, 2022. doi:10.1002/jcu.23411