Denervated human skeletal muscle: MR imaging evaluation

James L. Fleckenstein, Denton Watumull, Kevin E. Conner, Marybeth Ezaki, Ralph G. Greenlee, Wilson W. Bryan, David P Chason, Robert W. Parkey, Ronald M Peshock, Phillip D. Purdy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

297 Scopus citations


Because determination of neurologic integrity after severe limb trauma is crucial in patient care, the authors assessed magnetic resonance (MR) imaging as a tool to map denervated motor units of skeletal muscle in patients with tramatic peripheral neuropathy. Denervation was confirmed in 22 patients with use of electromyography, surgery, or both. MR imaging was performed with moderately T1- and T2-weighted spin-echo and short-tau inversion-recovery (STIR) sequences. MR imaging was unreliable in depicting acute denervation. Muscles of patients with subacute denervation had prolonged T1 and T2, which contributed to conspicuous hyperintensity on STIR images. Chronically denervated muscles showed marked atrophy, variable changes on STIR images, and conspicuous fatty infiltration on T1-weighted images. Normal variants in motor unit anatomy were seen in denervated muscle volumes outside the expected distribution of the injured nerve. MR imaging is promising for the noninvasive mapping and monitoring of denervated muscle in subacute and chronic phases of peripheral neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1993


  • Extremities, MR, 40.121413
  • Extremities, injuries, 40.48, 40.491
  • Magnetic resonance (MR), tissue characterization
  • Muscles, MR, 40.121413
  • Muscles, injuries, 40.491

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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