Established paths and new avenues: a review of the main radiological techniques for investigating sarcopenia

Chiara Giraudo, Annachiara Cavaliere, Amalia Lupi, Giuseppe Guglielmi, Emilio Quaia

Abstract

Sarcopenia is a clinical condition mainly affecting the elderly that can be associated in a long run with severe consequences like malnutrition and frailty. Considering the progressive ageing of the world population and the socio-economic impact of this disease, much effort is devoted and has to be further focused on an early and accurate diagnostic assessment of muscle loss. Currently, several radiological techniques can be applied for evaluating sarcopenia. If dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is still considered the main tool and it is even recommended as reference by the most current guidelines of the European working group on sarcopenia in older people (EWGSOP), the role of ultrasound (US), computed tomography (CT), peripheral quantitative CT (pQCT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should not be overlooked. Indeed, such techniques can provide robust qualitative and quantitative information. In particular, regarding MRI, the use of sequences like diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and mapping that could provide further insights into the physiopathological features of sarcopenia, should be fostered. In an era pointing to the quantification and automatic evaluation of diseases, we call for future research extending the application of organ tailored protocols, taking advantage of the most recent technical developments.

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