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New insights into intrinsic foot muscle morphology and composition using ultra‐high‐field (7-Tesla) magnetic resonance imaging

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journal contribution
posted on 03.08.2021, 03:04 by MM Franettovich Smith, JM Elliott, A Al-Najjar, KA Weber, MA Hoggarth, B Vicenzino, PW Hodges, NJ Collins
Background: The intrinsic muscles of the foot are key contributors to foot function and are important to evaluate in lower limb disorders. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), provides a non-invasive option to measure muscle morphology and composition, which are primary determinants of muscle function. Ultra-high-field (7-T) magnetic resonance imaging provides sufficient signal to evaluate the morphology of the intrinsic foot muscles, and, when combined with chemical-shift sequences, measures of muscle composition can be obtained. Here we aim to provide a proof-of-concept method for measuring intrinsic foot muscle morphology and composition with high-field MRI. Methods: One healthy female (age 39 years, mass 65 kg, height 1.73 m) underwent MRI. A T1-weighted VIBE – radio-frequency spoiled 3D steady state GRE – sequence of the whole foot was acquired on a Siemens 7T MAGNETOM scanner, as well as a 3T MAGNETOM Prisma scanner for comparison. A high-resolution fat/water separation image was also acquired using a 3D 2-point DIXON sequence at 7T. Coronal plane images from 3T and 7T scanners were compared. Using 3D Slicer software, regions of interest were manually contoured for each muscle on 7T images. Muscle volumes and percentage of muscle fat infiltration were calculated (muscle fat infiltration % = Fat/(Fat + Water) x100) for each muscle. Results: Compared to the 3T images, the 7T images provided superior resolution, particularly at the forefoot, to facilitate segmentation of individual muscles. Muscle volumes ranged from 1.5 cm3 and 19.8 cm3, and percentage muscle fat infiltration ranged from 9.2–15.0%. Conclusions: This proof-of-concept study demonstrates a feasible method of quantifying muscle morphology and composition for individual intrinsic foot muscles using advanced high-field MRI techniques. This method can be used in future studies to better understand intrinsic foot muscle morphology and composition in healthy individuals, as well as those with lower disorders.


MMFS is supported by a University of Queensland Development Fellowship (UQFEL1832429). KAW is supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (K23NS104211 and L30NS108301). PWH is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC: APP1091302 and APP1102905). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders





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