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Man Ther. 2005 May;10(2):108-15.

Size and shape of the posterior neck muscles measured by ultrasound imaging: normal values in males and females of different ages.

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Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, London, UK.


Measurements of muscle strength or size are valuable indicators of muscle status in health and disease. When force cannot be measured directly, due to a particular muscle being one of a functional group or because of pain, size measurements may be the only option. For such data to be useful, normal values for age and gender are necessary. Procedures for scanning and measuring semispinalis capitis and the deep posterior neck muscles (semispinalis cervicis, multifidus and rotatores) using ultrasound imaging are described and normal data provided on size, shape and symmetry of these muscles from a sample of 99 healthy subjects (46 males aged 20-72 years and 53 females aged 18-70 years). Significant gender differences were found (P<0.001) but muscle size did not alter significantly with age. Between-side symmetry can be used to assess abnormality of the deep neck muscle group but not semispinalis capitis. A regression equation is provided for predicting the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the deep neck muscles from spinous process length in males. Clinically, linear measurements can be used to predict the neck muscle CSAs (r=0.66-0.84, P<0.001). The method described for assessing the neck muscles is a potentially valuable tool in clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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