Article Title

Muscle B mode ultrasound and shear-wave elastography in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (SWIM): Criterion validation against MRI and muscle biopsy findings in an incident patient cohort


Background: B mode ultrasound (US) and shear wave elastography (SWE) are easily accessible imaging tools for idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) but require further validation against standard diagnostic procedures such as MRI and muscle biopsy.

Methods: In this prospective cross-sectional study we compared US findings to MRI and muscle biopsy findings in a group of 18 patients (11 F, 7 M) with active IIM (dermatomyositis 6, necrotising autoimmune myopathy 7, inclusion body myositis 4, overlap myositis 1) who had one or both procedures on the same muscle. US domains (echogenicity, fascial thickness, muscle bulk, shear wave speed and power doppler) in the deltoid and vastus lateralis were compared to MRI domains (muscle oedema, fatty infiltration/atrophy) and muscle biopsy findings (lymphocytic inflammation, myonecrosis, atrophy and fibro-fatty infiltration). A composite index score (1–4) was also used as an arbitrary indicator of overall muscle pathology in biopsies.

Results: Increased echogenicity correlated with the presence of fatty infiltration/atrophy on MRI (p = 0.047) in the vastus lateralis, and showed a non-significant association with muscle inflammation, myonecrosis, fibrosis and fatty infiltration/atrophy (p > 0.333). Severe echogenicity also had a non-significant association with higher composite biopsy index score in the vastus lateralis (p = 0.380). SWS and US measures of fascial thickness and muscle bulk showed poor discrimination in differentiating between pathologies on MRI or muscle biopsy. Power Doppler measures of vascularity correlated poorly with the presence of oedema on MRI, or with inflammation or fatty infiltration on biopsy. Overall, US was sensitive in detecting the presence of muscle pathology shown on MRI (67–100%) but showed poorer specificity (13–100%). Increased echogenicity showed good sensitivity when detecting muscle pathology (100%) but lacked specificity in differentiating muscle pathologies (0%). Most study participants rated US as the preferred imaging modality.

Conclusions: Our findings show that US, in particular muscle echogenicity, has a high sensitivity, but low specificity, for detecting muscle pathology in IIM. Traditional visual grading scores are not IIM-specific and require further modification and validation. Future studies should continue to focus on developing a feasible scoring system, which is reliable and allows translation to clinical practice.


shear wave elastography, B mode ultrasound, idiopathic inflammatory myopathies, imaging, myositis

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