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Motor Unit Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MUMRI) In Skeletal Muscle

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Linda Heskamp, Matt Birkbeck, Dan Baxter-Beard, Dr Julie Hall, Dr Ian Schofield, Dr Mat Elameer, Professor Roger Whittaker, Professor Andrew BlamireORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2024 The Authors. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is routinely used in the musculoskeletal system to measure skeletal muscle structure and pathology in health and disease. Recently, it has been shown that MRI also has promise for detecting the functional changes, which occur in muscles, commonly associated with a range of neuromuscular disorders. This review focuses on novel adaptations of MRI, which can detect the activity of the functional sub-units of skeletal muscle, the motor units, referred to as “motor unit MRI (MUMRI).” MUMRI utilizes pulsed gradient spin echo, pulsed gradient stimulated echo and phase contrast MRI sequences and has, so far, been used to investigate spontaneous motor unit activity (fasciculation) and used in combination with electrical nerve stimulation to study motor unit morphology and muscle twitch dynamics. Through detection of disease driven changes in motor unit activity, MUMRI shows promise as a tool to aid in both earlier diagnosis of neuromuscular disorders and to help in furthering our understanding of the underlying mechanisms, which proceed gross structural and anatomical changes within diseased muscle. Here, we summarize evidence for the use of MUMRI in neuromuscular disorders and discuss what future research is required to translate MUMRI toward clinical practice. Level of Evidence: 5. Technical Efficacy: Stage 3.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heskamp L, Birkbeck MG, Baxter-Beard D, Hall J, Schofield IS, Elameer M, Whittaker RG, Blamire AM

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Year: 2024

Issue: ePub ahead of Print

Online publication date: 12/01/2024

Acceptance date: 20/12/2023

ISSN (print): 1053-1807

ISSN (electronic): 1522-2586

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc


DOI: 10.1002/jmri.29218