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Quantitative ultrasonography reveals skeletal muscle abnormalities in carriers of DMD pathogenic variants.

Muscle & Nerve 2024 March 23
INTRODUCTION/AIMS: Carriers of DMD pathogenic variants may become symptomatic and develop muscle-related manifestations. Despite that, few studies have attempted to characterize changes in the muscles of these carriers using imaging tools, particularly muscle ultrasound (MUS). The aim of this study was to compare lower limb MUS findings in carriers of DMD pathogenic variants (cDMD) vs healthy controls.

METHODS: Twenty-eight women (15 cDMD and 13 controls) underwent clinical evaluation and MUS. We collected information about muscle-related symptoms and assessed muscle strength. MUS was performed by a single physician (blind to the genetic status of subjects). The following muscles were assessed: rectus femoris, sartorius, tibialis anterior, and medial gastrocnemius. For each site, we computed data on muscle thickness, cross-sectional area, sound attenuation index, and elastography. Between-group comparisons were assessed using nonparametric tests and p-values <.05 were deemed significant.

RESULTS: None of the subjects had objective muscle weakness, but exercise intolerance/fatigue was reported by four cDMDs and only one control. Regarding MUS, sound attenuation indices were significantly higher among carriers for all muscles tested. Longitudinal and axial deep echo intensities for the rectus femoris and tibialis anterior were also higher in the cDMD group compared with controls. No significant between-group differences were noted for elastography values, muscle area, or mean echo intensities.

DISCUSSION: cDMD have skeletal muscle abnormalities that can be detected using quantitative MUS. Further studies are needed to determine whether such abnormalities are related to muscle symptoms in these patients.

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