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Whole-body fasciculation detection in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis using motor unit MRI (MUMRI)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Linda HeskampORCiD, Matt Birkbeck, Dr Julie Hall, Dr Ian Schofield, Professor Roger Whittaker, Professor Andrew BlamireORCiD



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


© 2024 International Federation of Clinical NeurophysiologyObjective: Compare fasciculation rates between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and healthy controls in body regions relevant for diagnosing ALS using motor unit MRI (MUMRI) at baseline and 6 months follow-up, and relate this to single-channel surface EMG (SEMG). Methods: Tongue, biceps brachii, paraspinals and lower legs were assessed with MUMRI and biceps brachii and soleus with SEMG in 10 healthy controls and 10 patients (9 typical ALS, 1 primary lateral sclerosis [PLS]). Results: MUMRI-detected fasciculation rates in typical ALS patients were higher compared to healthy controls for biceps brachii (2.40 ± 1.90 cm-3min−1 vs. 0.04 ± 0.10 cm-3min−1, p = 0.004), paraspinals (1.14 ± 1.61 cm-3min−1 vs. 0.02 ± 0.02 cm-3min−1, p = 0.016) and lower legs (1.42 ± 1.27 cm-3min−1 vs. 0.13 ± 0.10 cm-3min−1, p = 0.004), but not tongue (1.41 ± 1.94 cm-3min−1 vs. 0.18 ± 0.18 cm-3min−1, p = 0.556). The PLS patient showed no fasciculation. At baseline, 6/9 ALS patients had increased fasciculation rates compared to healthy controls in at least 2 body regions. At follow-up every patient had increased fasciculation rates in at least 2 body regions. The MUMRI-detected fasciculation rate correlated with SEMG-detected fasciculation rates (τ = 0.475, p = 0.006). Conclusion: MUMRI can non-invasively image fasciculation in multiple body regions and appears sensitive to disease progression in individual patients. Significance: MUMRI has potential as diagnostic tool for ALS.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heskamp L, Birkbeck MG, Hall J, Schofield IS, Bashford J, Williams TL, De Oliveira HM, Whittaker RG, Blamire AM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Neurophysiology

Year: 2024

Volume: 161

Pages: 246-255

Print publication date: 01/05/2024

Online publication date: 18/02/2024

Acceptance date: 07/02/2024

Date deposited: 10/04/2024

ISSN (print): 1388-2457

ISSN (electronic): 1872-8952

Publisher: Elsevier Ireland Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.clinph.2024.02.016


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Funder referenceFunder name
the Rubicon research programme (project number: 452183002) of the Dutch Research Council (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO))