Purpose Measurement of muscle mass is paramount in the screening and diagnosis of sarcopenia. Besides muscle quantity however, also quality assessment is important. Ultrasonography (US) has the advantage over dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and bio-impedance analysis (BIA) to give both quantitative and qualitative information on muscle. However, before its use in clinical practice, several methodological aspects still need to be addressed. Both standardization in measurement techniques and the availability of reference values are currently lacking. This review aims to provide an evidence-based standardization of assessing appendicular muscle with the use of US.
Methods A systematic review was performed for ultrasonography to assess muscle in older people. Pubmed, SCOPUS and Web of Sciences were searched. All articles regarding the use of US in assessing appendicular muscle were used. Description of US-specific parameters and localization of the measurement were retrieved.
Results Through this process, five items of muscle assessment were identified in the evaluated articles: thickness, cross-sectional area, echogenicity, fascicle length and pennation angle. Different techniques for measurement and location of measurement used were noted, as also the different muscles in which this was evaluated. Then, a translation for a clinical setting in a standardized way was proposed.
Conclusions The results of this review provide thus an evidence base for an ultrasound protocol in the assessment of skeletal muscle. This standardization of measurements is the first step in creating conditions to further test the applicability of US for use on a large scale as a routine assessment and follow-up tool for appendicular muscle.