Leg muscle cross-sectional area measured by ultrasound is highly correlated with MRI.
The leg muscles are important for balance, posture, and movement during static and dynamic activity. Obtaining cross-sectional area measurements (CSA) of the leg muscles helps researchers understand the health and force production capability of individual leg muscles. Therefore, having an easy to use and readily available method to assess leg muscle CSA is needed. Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare the magnitude, repeatability, and validity of CSA measurements of select leg muscles from ultrasound (US) and the current gold standard, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).20 healthy volunteers participated in this study. Each participant was imaged via US and MRI. The muscles of interest obtained on each participant consisted of the tibialis anterior at both 30 and 50% of the shank length, tibialis posterior at both 30 and 50% of the shank length, the flexor digitorum longus, the fibularis (peroneus) longus, and the fibularis (peroneus) brevis.Strong Pearson correlations were seen for all of the muscles when comparing US to MRI with a range from .7840 to .9676. For all measurements, standard error of the measurement ranged from .003 to 0.260 cm2. Minimum detectable difference for muscle measurements ranged from .008 cm2 for MRI fibularis longus and fibularis brevis to .693 cm2 for MRI of tibialis anterior at 30%. US minimum detectable difference ranged from .125 cm2 for the tibialis posterior muscle at 30% to .449 cm2 for the tibialis anterior muscle at 50%.Based on these results ultrasound is a valid method to obtain CSA of muscles of the leg when compared with MRI.