Quantitative Muscle Imaging – possible Biomarkers for neuromuscular diseases

The incidence of neuromuscular diseases is about 1 in 2000 but there are more than 800 variants, some of them are rare. The clinical evaluation is mostly based on different methods of which most of them are complimentary.
Muscle imaging, with its various techniques allows on one hand for qualitative assessment, but also with the usage of novel techniques for quantitative assessment. Conventional T1-weighted images for example allow the evaluation of various patterns of affected muscles and relative fatty degeneration of single muscles and give evidences for different disease types and could therefore be useful for initial diagnosis. Using diffusion weighted imaging and tractography in the muscle, gives valuable information about muscle structure and architecture but also semiquantitative measures of muscle integrity. T2-mapping serves as a biomarker for inflammatory processes. It is very sensitive to even subtle changes in the muscle prior to severe oedma. mDixon is a very fast imaging technique, which allows not only the detection of fatty degeneration, but also the exact quantification of water / fat percentage.
In this study, we combine these methods in a clinically feasible MR- scanning protocol to quantify healthy muscle structure and to assess possible biomarkers for neuromuscular diseases. This allows the monitoring of disease progression as well as treatment strategies.

Team: Dr. Lara Schlaffke, Marlena Rohm, Dr. Robert Rehmann, Dr. Johannes Forsting

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