Evaluation of Muscle Mass and Stiffness with Limb Ultrasound in COVID-19 Survivors.
Frontiers in endocrinology. 2022;:801133
BACKGROUND acute illnesses, like COVID-19, can act as a catabolic stimulus on muscles. So far, no study has evaluated muscle mass and quality through limb ultrasound in post-COVID-19 patients. METHODS cross sectional observational study, including patients seen one month after hospital discharge for SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. The patients underwent a multidimensional evaluation. Moreover, we performed dominant medial gastrocnemius ultrasound (US) to characterize their muscle mass and quality. RESULTS two hundred fifty-nine individuals (median age 67, 59.8% males) were included in the study. COVID-19 survivors with reduced muscle strength had a lower muscle US thickness (1.6 versus 1.73 cm, p =0.02) and a higher muscle stiffness (87 versus 76.3, p = 0.004) compared to patients with normal muscle strength. Also, patients with reduced Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) scores had a lower muscle US thickness (1.3 versus 1.71 cm, p = 0.01) and a higher muscle stiffness (104.9 versus 81.07, p = 0.04) compared to individuals with normal SPPB scores. The finding of increased muscle stiffness was also confirmed in patients with a pathological value (≥ 4) at the sarcopenia screening tool SARC-F (103.0 versus 79.55, p < 0.001). Muscle stiffness emerged as a significant predictor of probable sarcopenia (adjusted OR 1.02, 95% C.I. 1.002 - 1.04, p = 0.03). The optimal ultrasound cut-offs for probable sarcopenia were 1.51 cm for muscle thickness (p= 0.017) and 73.95 for muscle stiffness (p = 0.004). DISCUSSION we described muscle ultrasound characteristics in post COVID-19 patients. Muscle ultrasound could be an innovative tool to assess muscle mass and quality in this population. Our preliminary findings need to be confirmed by future studies comparing muscle ultrasound with already validated techniques for measuring muscle mass and quality.