Muscle geometry affects accuracy of forearm volume determination by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Carolyn M. Eng, Geoff D. Abrams, Laura R. Smallwood, Richard L. Lieber, Samuel R. Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Upper extremity musculoskeletal modeling is becoming increasingly sophisticated, creating a growing need for subject-specific muscle size parameters. One method for determining subject-specific muscle volume is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The purpose of this study was to determine the validity of MRI-derived muscle volumes in the human forearm across a variety of muscle sizes and shapes. Seventeen cadaveric forearms were scanned using a fast-spoiled gradient echo pulse sequence with high isotropic spatial resolution (1 mm3 voxels) on a 3T MR system. Pronator teres (PT), extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB), extensor pollicis longus (EPL), flexor carpi ulnaris (FCU), and brachioradialis (BR) muscles were manually segmented allowing volume to be calculated. Forearms were then dissected, muscles isolated, and muscle masses obtained, which allowed computation of muscle volume. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC2,1) and absolute volume differences were used to compare measurement methods. There was excellent agreement between the anatomical and MRI-derived muscle volumes (ICC=0.97, relative error=12.8%) when all 43 muscles were considered together. When individual muscles were considered, there was excellent agreement between measurement methods for PT (ICC=0.97, relative error=8.4%), ECRB (ICC=0.93, relative error=7.7%), and FCU (ICC=0.91, relative error=9.8%), and fair agreement for EPL (ICC=0.68, relative error=21.6%) and BR (ICC=0.93, relative error=17.2%). Thus, while MRI-based measurements of muscle volume produce relatively small errors in some muscles, muscles with high surface area-to-volume ratios may predispose them to segmentation error, and, therefore, the accuracy of these measurements may be unacceptable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3261-3266
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2007


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Muscle architecture
  • Muscle volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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