Sarcopenia diagnosis: Reliability of the ultrasound assessment of the tibialis anterior muscle as an alternative evaluation tool

Massimiliano Leigheb, Alessandro de Sire, Matteo Colangelo, Domenico Zagaria, Federico Alberto Grassi, Ottavio Rena, Patrizio Conte, Pierluigi Neri, Alessandro Carriero, Gian Mauro Sacchetti, Fabio Penna, Giuseppina Caretti, Elisabetta Ferraro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sarcopenia is a skeletal muscle disorder characterized by reduced muscle mass, strength, and performance. Muscle ultrasound can be helpful in assessing muscle mass, quality, and architec-ture, and thus possibly useful for diagnosing or screening sarcopenia. The objective of this study was to evaluate the reliability of ultrasound assessment of tibialis anterior muscle in sarcopenia diagno-sis. We included subjects undergoing total or partial hip replacement, comparing measures with a healthy control group. We measured the following parameters: tibialis anterior muscle thickness, echogenicity, architecture, stiffness, skeletal muscle index (SMI), hand grip strength, and sarcopenia related quality of life evaluated through the SarQoL questionnaire. We included 33 participants with a mean age of 54.97 ± 23.91 years. In the study group we found reduced tibialis anterior muscle thickness compared to the healthy control group (19.49 ± 4.92 vs. 28.94 ± 3.63 mm, p < 0.05) with significant correlation with SarQoL values (r = 0.80, p < 0.05), dynamometer hand strength (r = 0.72, p < 0.05) and SMI (r = 0.76, p < 0.05). Moreover, we found reduced stiffness (32.21 ± 12.31 vs. 27.07 ± 8.04 Kpa, p < 0.05). AUC measures of ROC curves were 0.89 predicting reduced muscle strength, and 0.97 predicting reduced SMI for tibialis anterior muscle thickness, while they were 0.73 and 0.85, respectively, for muscle stiffness. Our findings showed that ultrasound assessment of tibialis anterior muscle might be considered a reliable measurement tool to evaluate sarcopenia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2158
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Muscle
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle thickness
  • Sarcopenia
  • Ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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